Flaming Lips/Modest Mouse/Liz Phair/Destroyer/Starlight Mints Plaza of Nations, Vancouver BC - May 25, 2003

Flaming Lips/Modest Mouse/Liz Phair/Destroyer/Starlight Mints Plaza of Nations, Vancouver BC - May 25, 2003
Big screen, fake blood, confetti, a nun puppet, confetti, giant balloons, strap-on strobe lights, animal costumes and more confetti made for an incredible birthday freak show or a fairly typical Flaming Lips event. The soundtrack to the never-ending visual candy transcended the Lips' recorded repertoire, with lead singer Wayne Coyne leading the crowd part way in "Happy Birthday," sung to the half-dozen in attendance who claimed it was their day. Ending the night with "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton," the Lips left the Vancouver crowd encore-less but grinning ear-to-ear. While the Lips (and lots of BC's primary agricultural commodity) sent the crowd off smiling, the night's other acts all pulled out impressive performances. I left a new fan of the Starlight Mints (from the Lips home state of Oklahoma) after their set of quirky indie-pop rock. Hometown boys Destroyer, whose epic variety of well arranged pop songs featured singer/guitarist Dan Bejar's poetic tales and Bowie-esque vocals, engaged much of the early crowd. Liz Phair was stripped down and acoustic, looking and sounding both fresh and at home; her short set featured some new songs, along with old favourites — a tease of her upcoming tour and album. Modest Mouse took the stage just as the concert lighting took effect. Tight and dynamic, they've perfected their sound over recent years. Their solid set featured complex, layered indie rock topped by both Isaac Brock's notable guitar work and his impassioned vocals, which ebbed from whispers to screams and back again.