Honestly, if she had declined the offer, I would not have gone. After all, it was her Big Day, and I am a firm believer in honoring Big Days. However, when I told MissSeven months ago that the Flaming Lips were playing a concert in the Big City on her 8th birthday, this is what she said:


She likes the band, and was quite taken by the photos and vids I took from the band’s last stop in the area at Marymoor Park. It is my opinion that seeing the Flaming Lips in concert is simply something everyone should do. Yes, everyone. It’s more than a rock show, more than an elaborate, outrageously explosionary and colorific spectacle filled with nerds and freaks, although it is that, too. There is something very sweet about it all…silly and over-the-top, but with a genuine spirit of kindness and -- dare I say it lest you call me a hippie and YOU BETTER NOT CALL ME A HIPPIE, BROTHER -- love. You don’t have to be sleeping on a patchouli-soaked futon to dig it, or be high, or be anything other than you. You’ve never seen a more delighted bunch of folks than those watching a Lips concert.

We missed the opener, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, just catching the last song over the TV monitor in the Paramount lobby. Sounded good to me, with a substantially-harder edge than the recorded material I’ve heard. As we made our way to our balcony seats, a nice usher stopped me and asked if I had earplugs for MissSeven. I assured him that I did, thanked him for considering her well-being, and he said, good thing, because it’s gonna be LOUD. This, I knew.

I also knew that we would be seeing some interesting clothing choices. Mr. Cape watches the roadies set up for the Lips.

It’s unusual to see a band at this level of fame come out onstage prior to the show’s official start, but they do. They tinker and putz around and soundcheck, and every so often a cheer goes up from the audience, excited. You get the feeling that the band very much wants to provide their fans with a great experience. It’s also unusual for a band at this level of fame to pour so much money into a stage show – you’d be more likely to be seeing a lot of this kinda fansay stuff at a Pink Floyd or U2 show, and be paying double the ticket price, too. Right before the show began with the house lights up, lead Lip Wayne Coyne came out to give folks an amusing but also sincere plea that the audience should be aware that the strobe lights and other effects might make some people feel seizure-y or ill, and the cure for that would be to STOP LOOKING. MissSeven was briefly alarmed, so I told her if she was concerned she could close her eyes. It’s not every day a rock star in a suit comes out and tells you to be careful, after all; she took that to heart.

The show began with the band emerging from the backscreen and Wayne Coyne rolling into the audience in his human-sized hamster ball, the Flaming Lips’most-famous accoutrement. See for yourself here. It’s kinda hard to follow the bouncing ball sometimes, when there’s a billion balloons and confetti flying all over and people are goin’ NUTS. Fun!

Last year at Marymoor, Wayne rode the shoulders of an angry-looking gorilla. This time, it was a black bear with a sprightly march step. Here’s “Silver Trembling Hands.

MissEight (Eight!) has a need to mention something to me during the show. Of course, she had to yell.








March Bear retired for the evening, and the pace calmed for “In The Morning Of The Magicians,” which almost felt like a Ziggy Stardust lullaby, questions directed at a night sky, or just us.

In the morning I'd awake
And couldn't remember
What is love and what is hate
The calculations error
What is love and what is hate
And why does it matter
Is to love just a waste
Why does it matter

As the dawn began to break
I had to surrender
The universe will have its way
Too powerful to master
What is love and what is hate
And why does it matter
Is to love just a waste
Why does it matter

You know what fans are the happiest of all at a Flaming Lips show? The ones who get to dance onstage! This also seems like something one should add to the checklist of “Things To Do Before You Die.”

The set was nicely paced, and it was just as fun shooting pictures from the balcony as it was at Marymoor down front. You could shoot every single minute of that show – there’s just SO much visual splendor. There are more photos here.

The Ego’s Last Stand” came up close to the end of the show, one of several songs played from 2009’s “Embryonic” album.

The closer this evening was the transcendent “Do You Realize??” and the Paramount again was treated to a fantastic rain of fluttery confetti. The song is beautiful without needing a single special effect, but everyone knows that. At the end of the song, I noticed on the big screen that Wayne Coyne’s eyes had filled with tears as he smiled at all the people, smiling at him.

My favorite moment of the show is unabashedly personal. I took a moment to watch MissEight’s face as the huge balloons bounced up to the high, high ceiling, coming closer to us, then floating down, popping up again, floating down. She smiled and giggled and reached out her hands to catch one over and over, leaning forward in her seat, but with no luck – the blue one popped away, the orange one, then the red one. But then…right down to her came one huge white balloon, down, down, down. She caught it and held onto it with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. After a few seconds, I had to remind her of concert-goer balloon etiquette.



Happy birthday, big girl. Thank you, Flaming Lips.