REVIEW: Primus and The Flaming Lips at Red Rocks, Aug. 3

The Flaming Lips
Photo by Dane Cronin

The moon had just begun to set over a sold-out show at Red
Rocks Amphitheatre when Primus took the stage. It seemed an appropriate setting for a show co-headlined by
The Flaming Lips performing Pink Floyd’s seminal 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. As lightning flashed in the far-off
distance, Primus delved into their set of California-bred psychedelic funk-metal.

Supporting the two headliners was the Oregon-based band
Morning Teleportation. The quartet played a mixture of psychedelic-infused
riff-rock, rustic country-rock and synthesized electronic ballads from the
band’s 2011 album, Expanding Anyway.

Though visibly excited to be playing on such a high-profile
bill, (something the band has become accustomed to since their formation in
2005,) Morning Teleportation seemed cramped on stage surrounded by the
headliners’ elaborate lighting systems and strange stage props. With two
massive concentric semi-circles of LED lights and two gigantic astronauts
sharing the stage with them, the band played their hearts out to the eager
crowd before yielding the stage to Primus.

Opening with the song “To Defy the Laws of Tradition” from
their 1990 album Frizzle Fry, Primus
proceeded to dazzle the audience with extended jams of nearly every song they
played. Diving into their set with the lesser-known “Those Damned Blue-Collar
Tweekers,” Primus followed immediately with fan favorites “Tommy the Cat” and
“Southbound Pachyderm.” Frontman Les Claypool paused briefly during each song
to address the crowd, commenting on the glory of the venue’s monolithic rocks,
and praising the aforementioned light system, which Claypool referred to as
their “new toy.”

He then ran off stage while drummer Jay Lane and guitarist
Larry LaLonde engaged in a brief jam before Claypool re-emerged wearing a
chimpanzee mask and wielding his favorite plaything, “the whamola” — a large
metal stick with a single bass string and a lever to augment the pitch. %uFFFDThey played a song from one of
Claypool’s side projects, Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade’s “Whamola” from the 2002
album Purple Onion.

Primus continued with intermittent jams and drum solos,
and peppered in tracks from their forthcoming album, Green
due out in September. The band played other crowd favorites
such as “John the Fisherman” and “My Name is Mud,” as well as deeper cuts
like “Over the Falls” and their lysergic boogie “Over the Electric
Grapevine” before leaving the crowd in what Claypool called “the fine and
capable hands of one of the best bands around today.”

The crowd waited in anticipation while the stagehands
organized The Flaming Lips extravagant stage props, which included whitewashed
stacks of speakers and colorful confetti cannons.%uFFFD Balloons were brought to the top of the venue and unleashed
upon the crowd as the band took the stage.

In typical Flaming Lips fashion, the band emerged from a
giant LED screen, which was lit up to look like a flashing fluorescent vagina,
as frontman Wayne Coyne stood inside a rapidly inflating “space bubble.” The
rest of the band played an untitled introductory song as Coyne walked out into
the crowd and was promptly lifted by the audience towards the middle of the
venue.%uFFFD After a few minutes Coyne
was delivered back to the stage and the band opened their set with Pink Floyd’s

As confetti and streamers filled the amphitheater, The
Flaming Lips masterfully played through the first few songs of Dark Side of The Moon before Coyne
presented the crowd with several giant balloons filled with what appeared to be
American currency. The audience
promptly popped the balloons, showering the crowd with the bills as the band
continued with the song “Money.”%uFFFD

The show was themed on The
Wizard of Oz
psychedelically altered images from the movie sharing the LED screen with
colorful naked women. On both
sides of the stage there were several dancing women dressed as Dorothy. The band also covered several songs
from the movie, notably, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “We’re Off To See the
Wizard” and “If I Only Had a Brain.”

The Oklahoma band finished off all of The Dark Side of the Moon, unleashing massive amounts of confetti,
balloons and streamers during the finals songs, “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse.”

The Flaming Lips briefly left the stage, only to re-emerge
and perform a single-song encore. The audience sang along in unison as The
Flaming Lips played their original song “Do You Realize” from their 2002 album
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

As the confetti settled upon the ground and the 9,450
patrons slowly filed out of the venue to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful
World,” there could be no doubt that
what had transpired had been something full of magic, beauty and good, wholesome
rock ’n’ roll.

Photos by Dane Cronin

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