Before either Matt and Kim or The Flaming Lips took the stage, Maha Music Festival already had one of its best days yet.
Attendance at the festival was its highest in its five years: 5,100. And all the bands were pretty good with The Thermals and especially Sons of Fathers delivering memorable performances.
At the end of the night came The Flaming Lips with a stage set that looked like a scene from “Alien” with its silver bubbles and glowing ropes of light. On top of it all was frontman Wayne Coyne in a shiny blue suit and clutching a baby doll.
I thought it was fun. I thought it was an amazing visual. I thought the music was good, too, though I could have used a few more familiar songs. (For the record, it was way better when I sort of famously ripped apart the debut of this production.)
Weird? Hell yes it was weird. And was it what people expected? No, it was not.
Let’s talk about expectations for a second: I’m sure a lot of people expected dancers, rainbow confetti, the hamster ball and all the happy, peppy songs from The Flaming Lips’ past. But apparently they didn’t read anything anyone has written about the band’s most recent performances, including all the stuff I wrote previewing the Maha show.
I expected something similar to that terrible, droning mess of a set at SXSW but with better lights, a few more old favorites. And that’s what we got.
With lasers, strobe lights, rainbow-colored flashes and confetti (colored black and reflecting the stage lights), the set was a total trip. The Lips played droning and noisy songs from its new, dark album “The Terror” as well as some old guitar rock tunes such as “The W.A.N.D.”
The set ended with an encore of “Do You Realize,” slowed way down to make it a little more weary, but the down-tempo version also made it perfect for people to sing along. And they did just that.
I know a lot of people were disappointed they didn’t hear “Fight Test” or “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” — I’ll admit that I would have loved to hear those songs — but if you’ve been paying attention, you probably would have known we weren’t going to get those anyway.
Matt and Kim preceded the Lips with the most fun anyone has had at a music festival. (It’s certainly one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen. I wish I could do it again tonight.)
Matt and Kim turned Maha into the ultimate party.
The keyboard/drum duo is the perfect festival band with its infectiously peppy songs such as “Daylight” and “Yea Yeah” as well as with Kim’s beaming smiles. No one was happier they were onstage than Matt or Kim themselves.
Their profanity-filled stage banter was pretty funny (remember: “all-ages” means “all ages allowed” and not “appropriate for all ages”) and, with the sun down, the lights and the dance beats made everyone want to get down.
Beach balls bounced over fans’ heads and Kim walked on the fans’ hands during the set, which included a few segues into hip-hop classics such as “Next Episode” and “Just a Friend.”
It was the high point of the day, especially with songs like “Good Old Fashioned Nightmare” and “Cameras,” Kim and Matt standing on their instruments to incite the audience and all the balloons flying overhead. (Seriously, that was a cool trick.)
Those final two performances capped a near-perfect day of music for me.
Maha now has the pressure of living up to expectations when they throw events as good as this one, but I think they’ll deliver.
Matt and Kim, especially, were happy to be a part of the event, and they thanked the volunteers.
“I’m so happy they asked us to be a part of this festival with bands like The Thermals and The Flaming Lips,” said Matt and Kim’s Matt Johnson. “You need to support this (stuff) every year.”
The Flaming Lips’ Coyne gave the most ringing endorsement: “We’re from Oklahoma City — and don’t say this to anybody — and there ain’t anything this cool going on there.”
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