The Flaming Lips Storm Into The Sound in Del Mar

A decade ago North County was treated to an extravaganza featuring the Flaming Lips as part of a striking musical at La Jolla Playhouse. 

Last night Wayne Coyne and his merry band of pranksters pulled into The Sound with another sensory overload of sonic and aural fulsomeness. 

They frontloaded their best song early. “Do You Realize” presents one of the most fundamental existential questions, all wrapped in a lush earworm melody. On stage, the pulsing lights and lasers were as trippy as anything seen in Del Mar in years. 

Most in the audience were well aware that the Rosetta Stone album responsible for much of the Flaming Lips canon just turned 50. No one could foresee what Pink Floyd unleashed with Dark Side of the Moon, but Coyne (then a sprightly Oklahoma City lad of 11) and legions of others stood up and took notice. In fact, the band recorded a version of DSOTM several years ago. They have also collaborated over the years with myriad like-minded artists, most notably Sean Lennon (whose Dad was the trippiest Liverpudlian), Mick (The Clash) Jones and most improbably Miley Cyrus. 

In Del Mar Coyne repeatedly praised the audience for supporting live music, and delivered various uplifting messages as part of his occasionally excessive between song patter. 

The five other band members were in good form, with drummer Steven Drozd (one of two) occasionally picking up guitar behind his kit.  The rest of the band was comprised of Derek Brown (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Matt Kirksey (drums), Nicholas Ley (percussion, drums) and Tommy McKenzie (bass, guitars).

The setlist invariably included “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1” (which formed the basis of the aforementioned musical at the La Jolla Playhouse) as well as a clever cover of Madonna’s “Borderline.” The 1993 hit “She Don’t Use Jelly” came later in the evening and revived a few audience members who peaked early. Indeed, the song is the band’s highest charting hit. 

The Flaming Lips stage show did not feature any flying pigs, but there were plenty of confetti cannons, smoke machines, bubble generators and several crepe paper rifles. 

The staff at the venue will spend a lot of time sweeping up and figuring out how to clear the rafters. 

The staff at the venue will spend a lot of time sweeping up and figuring out how to clear the rafters.

(photos by Brad Auerbach)

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.