The Flaming Lips Whistler Stage, Pemberton BC, July 19

The Flaming Lips Whistler Stage, Pemberton BC, July 19
Photo: JPG Photography
The Flaming Lips' most recent album, 2013's The Terror, was bleak and abrasively noisy, but the veteran psych rock band's live show remains as jubilant as ever. Wayne Coyne was beaming from ear to ear when he walked out wearing a bodysuit printed to resemble bare, beneath-the-skin muscles. He and his bandmates were joined by a rotating cast of costumed characters (including two women in a plush rainbow and human-sized mushrooms, and giant inflatable aliens), while the stage resembled the world's trippiest kindergarten classroom with its dangling threads of light and silvery tinsel.

Rather than showcase recent material, the Flaming Lips' set list emphasized their joyous back catalogue highlights: they showered fans with colourful confetti during "She Don't Use Jelly," led an enormous sing-along on "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1," and Coyne held his fist triumphantly aloft for "Race for the Prize."

Even better, the sun gloriously burst through the clouds when the Lips performed their Chemical Brothers team-up "The Golden Path," with Coyne delivering his spoken-word tale of a post-mortem journey with theatrical urgency. Soon after, he performed his signature human bubble stunt when he walked over the crowd inside a gigantic beach ball, and he sung using a cordless mic while the fans held him aloft.

One he returned to the stage, he changed into a purply-blue suit and scaled a high bank of screens to deliver "Look... The Sun Is Rising" — the set's sole cut from The Terror — while creepily cradling a baby doll.

As fantastically weird and psychedelic as this all was, the Lips saved their best for last. When they were called back for an encore, they performed a gorgeously heartfelt version of their wide-eyed pop anthem "Do You Realize?" before closing with an explosively dramatic, confetti-punctuated take on the Beatles' psych classic "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

Although this year has been a rough one for the band, thanks to their ugly war of words with former drummer Kliph Scurlock, this show was pure magic.

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Read our recent Questionnaire with Wayne Coyne here.