Sunday, April 30, 2017


April 1, 2017
"Description Of A Fool" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Skankin' To The Beat" performed by Fishbone
"My Love Explodes" performed by The Dukes Of Stratosphear

"If I Should Die Tonight" performed by Marvin Gaye

April 2, 2017
"Bloom" (live) performed by Radiohead
"Shake Hands With Danger" (live) performed by Tortoise
"Careful With That Axe, Eugene" (live) performed by Pink Floyd
"There Should Be Unicorns" (live) performed by The Flaming Lips
"Watcher Of The Skies" (live) performed by Genesis

"Born With The Blues" performed by Lonnie Brooks
"Walkin' Out The Door' performed by The Detroit Blues Band
"Our Love" performed by Gary Clark Jr.-WSPC PREMIERE

April 3, 2017
"Bach Cello Suite #1" performed by Yo Yo Ma

"Fishy Swa Ska" (live 2017) performed by Fishbone
"Armagideon Time" performed by The Clash
"Possessed" (unreleased) performed by Prince

April 4, 2017
"Election Day" performed by Arcadia

April 6, 2017
"Long Long Road" performed by Paul Weller-WSPC PREMIERE
"Cruise" performed by David Gilmour

April 7, 2017
"Time Is Running Out" performed by Steve Winwood
"Battle Cry" performed by Jack White-WSPC PREMIERE
"I'm So Afraid" (live 1976) performed by Fleetwood Mac

"Sample And Hold" (live in Berlin 1982) performed by Neil Young
"I Know There's Something Going On" performed by Frida
"This Is Love" performed by Tony Banks
"Reap The Wild Wind" performed by Ultravox
"Goodbye Is Forever" performed by Arcardia
"Love Is The Drug" performed by Roxy Music

April 8, 2017
"Don't Kill The Whale" performed by Yes
"Animal" performed by Pearl Jam
"Proposition" performed by Duran Duran

'Drum Duet" performed by Buddy Rich and Ed Shaughnessy (live on "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson" 1978)
"Whiteout Conditions" performed by The New Pornographers-WSPC PREMIERE
"Goose Snow Cone" performed by Aimee Mann-WSPC PREMIERE

April 9, 2017
"Blinded By The Light" performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band
"This Song Has No Title" performed by Elton John
"Don't You Ever Learn?" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Ripe (With Decay)" performed by Nine Inch Nails

"Can Anyone Who Has Heard This Music Really Be A Bad Person?" performed by Kaki King

April 10, 2017
"My Ever Changing Moods" performed by The Style Council

"All Join In" performed by Temples-WSPC PREMIERE
"Turning Japanese" performed by The Vapors
"Let's Go To Bed" performed by The Cure
"Let Me Out" performed by Gorillaz featuring Pusha T and Mavis Staples-WSPC PREMIERE
"Power To The People" performed by Public Enemy

"Immigrant Song" (live) performed by Led Zeppelin

April 11, 2017
"Till Next Tuesday" performed by James Iha
"Bruised But Not Broken" performed by Joss Stone
"Monkey Man" performed by The Rolling Stones
"Dolly" performed by Nicky Hopkins
"Flamethrower" performed by J. Geils Band

April 12, 2017
"Giant Steps" performed by John Coltrane
"A Love Supreme" performed by John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana
"One Last Kiss" performed by The J. Geils Band
"Sleepless Night" performed by The Kinks
"All Blues" performed by Miles Davis

"We Got Married" performed by Paul McCartney

April 13, 2017
"Deaf Ears" performed by Todd Rundgren featuring Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross-WSPC PREMIERE
"Truth" performed by Kamasi Washington-WSPC PREMIERE
Explosions In The Sky--FULL performance live on KEXP September 3, 2016

"Bombs Away" performed by The Police
"Distant Early Warning" performed by Rush
"Power" performed by Planet P. Project
"Power" performed by Tears For Fears
"Red Rain" performed by Peter Gabriel

April 14, 2017
"Heaven On Their Minds" from "Jesus Christ Superstar" (1973)

"In My World" performed by Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie-WSPC PREMIERE
"White Light" performed by Real Estate-WSPC PREMIERE
"Simple Fix" performed by Aimee Mann-WSPC PREMIERE
"I Don't Know How To Love Him" from "Jesus Christ Superstar" (1970)
"Passion" performed by Peter Gabriel

April 15, 2017
"Taxman, Mr. Thief" performed by Cheap Trick
"What Do You Do For Money" performed by AC/DC
"Did You Steal My Money?" performed by Pete Townshend
"Money's Too Tight (To Mention)" performed by Simply Red
"Got Your Money" performed by Ol' Dirty Bastard
"Money Talks" performed by Rick James

"Cross My Heart" performed by Melody's Echo Chamber-WSPC PREMIERE

April 16, 2017
"Couldn't I Just Tell You" performed by The Lemon Twigs and Todd Rundgren (live at Coachella 2017)

"Judas" performed by Esperanza Spalding
"Mary Magdalene" performed by Patty Larkin
"The Resurrection" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"Gethsemane" from "Jesus Christ Superstar" (1973)
"It Is Accomplished" performed by Peter Gabriel

"Jesus Is Just Alright" performed by The Doobie Brothers
"Jesus, I/Mary Star Of The Sea" performed by Zwan

April 17, 2017
"Girl Loves Me" performed by David Bowie
"Chelsea Lovers" performed by Dave Stewart
"A Fan's Mail (Tron Song II)" (live) performed by Thundercat-WSPC PREMIERE
"Snake Oil" performed by Tony Williams

April 18, 2017
"Ballad Of The Dying Man" performed by Father John Misty-WSPC PREMIERE
"Answering Bell" performed by Ryan Adams
"Consolers Of The Lonely" performed by The Raconteurs
"Houses Of The Holy" performed by Led Zeppelin
"Armor And Sword" performed by Rush

"DNA" performed by Kendrick Lamar-WSPC PREMIERE

April 20, 2017
"Did You Miss Me" performed by Lindsey Buckingham
"Missing" performed by Everything But The Girl
"Say You Miss Me" performed by Wilco

"Hi Hi Hi" performed by Paul McCartney
"Do You Wanna Get High?" performed by Weezer
"Southbound" performed by The Allman Brothers Band
"Itchycoo Park" performed by The Small Faces
"Let's Go Get Stoned" performed by Ray Charles
JUNE 7, 1958-APRIL 21, 2016
April 21, 2017
"Sometimes It Snows In April"
"The One"
"Cinnamon Girl"
"Chocolate Box"
"Bambi" performed live with 3RDEYEGIRL
"Chaos And Disorder" performed live with 3RDEYEGIRL
"Pop Life/Life Can Be So Nice" performed live with The Revolution
"A Love Bizarre" performed live with The Revolution and Shelia E.

April 22, 2017

"(Nothing) But Flowers" performed by Talking Heads
"Spiral" performed by XTC
"Big Ten Inch Record" performed by Aerosmith
"Rise" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Song For A Dying Planet' performed by Joe Walsh
"Nature Girl" performed by World Party
"45 RPM" performed by The Alarm
"Cosmically Conscious" performed by Paul McCartney

"Smell The Roses" performed by Roger Waters-WSPC PREMIERE

April 23, 2017

"Wonderful Ass" (unreleased)
"Joy In Repetition" (live)
"Electric Intercourse" (unreleased)
"Freaks On This Side"
"Silver Tongue"

April 24, 2017
"Goin' On" performed by The Flaming Lips
"Gimmie All Your Love" performed by Alabama Shakes
"Little Black Submarines" performed by The Black Keys
"Entrance Song" performed by The Black Angels
"Dis Generation" performed by A Tribe Called Quest

April 25, 2017
"1-2-3" performed by Len Barry

"Mr. Ambulance Driver" performed by The Flaming Lips
"Darlinghurst Nights" performed by The Go-Betweens
"Ocean City Girl" performed by Ivy
"Achmed Flyger" performed by Dungen
"Agaetis Byrjun" performed by Sigur Ros
"Fixing A Hole" performed by Electric Wurms

April 27, 2017
"Carpet Crawlers" performed by Genesis
"Love Forever" performed by Oasis
"Temptation" performed by New Order

"Space Oddity" performed by The Flaming Lips
"Listen To The Rhythm Of The Falling Rain" performed by The Cascades
"J-Boy" performed by Phoenix-WSPC PREMIERE
"It's Raining Again" performed by Supertramp
"Drinking Again" performed by Dinah Washington

April 28, 2017
"Shake Your Body Down" performed by The Laurie Berkner Band

"Long Time Coming" performed by Cheap Trick-WSPC PREMIERE
"Little Sister" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
"Baby Driver" performed by KISS
"Black Diamond" (live 6-14-12) performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Told You I'd Be With The Guys" performed by Cherry Glazerr-WSPC PREMIERE
"Stay Sharp" performed by Skyline Sounds

April 29, 2017
"When I Grow Up" performed by The Beach Boys
"Growing Pains" performed by Tim Finn
"The Rest Of My Life" performed by Sloan
"Slit Skirts" performed by Pete Townshend
"When I Grow Up" performed by Garbage

April 30, 2017
"Andromeda" performed by Gorillaz-WSPC PREMIERE
"Celebrate" performed by Little Dragon-WSPC PREMIERE
"Protect Ya Neck (The Drop Off)" performed by The Wu-Tang Clan
"Whoodeeni" performed by De La Soul with 2 Chainz
"Electric Intercourse" performed by Prince-WSPC PREMIERE

Friday, April 28, 2017


1. "25 O'Clock" performed by The Dukes Of Stratosphear
2. "Follow The Leader" performed by Foxygen
3. "My Ever Changing Moods" performed by The Style Council
4. "Party At Ground Zero" performed by Fishbone
5. "Rope" performed by Foo Fighters
6. "Never Seeing The Ground For The Sky" performed by Sloan
7. "Cheese Cake" performed by Aerosmith
8. "Anything I Say To You Now" performed by Ryan Adams
9. "Mission: Submission" performed by TV Eyes

10."One Of These Days" performed by Pink Floyd
11."Erase/Rewind" performed by The Cardigans
12."Boy Or A Girl" performed by Imperial Drag
13."Androgyny" performed by Garbage
14."Be Strong Now" performed by James Iha
15."April 5th" performed by Talk Talk
16."How Lucky Am I?" performed by The Lemon Twigs
17."Lucky And Unhappy" performed by Air
18."Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control" performed by Tame Impala
19."Umbrella Man" performed by Utopia

1. "Thunder" performed by Prince and the New Power Generation
2. "The Belle Of St Mark" performed by Shelia E.
3. "He's So Dull" performed by Vanity 6
4. "The Walk" performed by The Time
5. "Six And 1/2" performed by Madhouse
6. "Nothing Compares 2 U" performed by The Family
7. "Love Sign" performed by Nona Gaye and O+>
8. "Dream Factory" performed by Prince
9. "I'm Yours" performed by Prince


Released March 3, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC: It has been three long years since I first fell in love with Temples and their specialized brand of 21st century psychedelia courtesy of their debut album "Sun Structures" (released February 5, 2014).

Where their first album conveyed a certain soundscape of being caught in the middle of some kind of dark London underground club circa 1968, Temples has evolved its sound into something more overtly modern yet without sacrificing the huge, melodic qualities that made their debut such a stunner. But, was it enough?

"Volcano," the band's second album, is a melodically rich and beautifully loud album filled with booming production and cavernous sound where an army of keyboards and synthesizers are the dominant instruments (save for Samuel Toms' drums) on display. Now this is not meant to foreshadow any negative commentary. I love the superb wash of the synthetic 88's but I do wish that the alteration in sound made for a collection of better songs overall.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed tracks like "Certainty," the glorious album closer "Strange Or Be Forgotten" and the terrific "I Wanna Be Your Mirror" among others, but for much of the album, the songs tended to blend and bleed together and leaving not much of an impression, instead of making my ears pop in excitement, much like their debut. .

Now, never fear. "Volcano" does not represent a sophomore slump or creative stumble. Just an album that ushers in a bold new sound but is still a tad tentative to really make that great leap. Temples had that great album in them, I think...and I am happy to follow and wait for its full arrival.
Released March 17, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC: Sometimes, the arrival of Spring is perfectly announced through the music of Real Estate as their specialized blend of gorgeously languid, dreamy interweaves of guitars, sighing vocals and tempos that conjure the mood of listening to new grass growing and the Earth itself gently warming after a bitter Winter.

While their fourth album "In Mind," features a personnel change as original member singer/guitarist Matt Mondanile departed the band to focus full time on his excellent Ducktails project, a move that now finds guitarist Julian Lynch joining the fold, Real Estate's signature musical palate, one that suggests a combination of The Byrds, The Feelies and The Smiths, has remained as blissfully steadfast as ever.

Now for some, the musical sameness may strike listeners as Real Estate being trapped within some sort of creative stagnation. But, I don't think that fans of the band are looking for them to re-invent themselves from album to album--at least, I'm not. With Real Estate, I may not get the album that re-invents the wheel, so to speak, but I do know what I will receive, making any new effort feel like receiving the warmest messages from a friend.

And when those guitars announce themselves upon the album's opening track "Darling," and continue onwards towards the lovely album closer "Saturday," I am simply happy.
Released March 11, 2008
Released May 21, 1996
Released March 6, 2006
Released March 31, 2017
NEW 2017 MUSIC: The cat nearly did me in.

In the music video for "Goose Snow Cone," the debut single and opening track from Aimee Mann's undeniably moving 11th solo album, we are treated to a short story of a cat parent dealing with the illness of her treasured feline friend. Cutting to the chase, the video contains a happy ending but even so, (and especially as I am a cat parent to two beloved feline friends and endured the devastating loss of my first treasured feline companion many years ago), the images immediately brought tears to my eyes--tears that were truly earned through the images propelled by the honestly and overall compassion of the music itself, which contains Mann's most delicate, stripped down arrangements to date.

"Mental Illness," which Mann has described as containing her "slowest, saddest and most acoustic" music yet, is exactly as advertised. Working again with her longtime producer Paul Bryan (hmmmm...whatever happened to Jon Brion?), Mann has envisioned her latest collection of character studies, intimate portraits and interior monologues as explorations of specific mental states, all fueled by sounds of chamber pop merged with 1970's easy listening.

In fact, quite often, I found myself feeling that these songs, with their stunning harmony vocals (the background singing in the piano ballad "Good For Me" is especially killer, for instance) and other accouterments would not have sounded terribly out of place on an album by Burt Bacharach or better yet, The Carpenters, that is if Richard Carpenter's orchestrations were toned down (no disrespect to R.C.).

To my ears, what Aimee Mann has achieved, especially in this age of mega-excess--from singing to production, all signifying nothing) is truly masterful and I would urge aspiring songwriters to take heed of her qualities as there are quite few in her league. With this album, Mann demonstrates how less is so powerfully more as the instrumentation is essentially built around acoustic guitar, bass, minimal; drums and percussion, some piano, those aforementioned string arrangements and harmony vocals and of course, the heart and soul of the album itself, the lyrics and voice of Aimee Mann, which contains a rich sense of gravity and empathy for her new cast of characters.

From the cat inspired "Goose Snow Cone," to the adrenaline junkie ("Rollercoasters"), the romantically rejected ("You Never Loved Me"), the bipolar grifter ("Lies Of Summer"), the soon to be eaten alive hopeful young actor ("Patient Zero") plus six more tales of woe, Aimee Mann's "Mental Illness" is a emotionally affecting work filled with cryptic metaphors yet miraculously dives straight for your heart while never growing maudlin or overwrought--just brilliantly direct in its melancholic eloquence and elegance.
Released March 14, 2014
Released April 1, 2013
Released October 13, 2009
Released April 3, 2006


Maybe it is just meant to be and why not for a day as special as this one.

Dear readers and listeners, for the third year running as I have made an more active point to participate, the 2017 Record Store Day proved itself to be another glorious event on an equally glorious day, as far as the weather was concerned.

Temperatures had that great Springtime crisp in the air as the sun glowed brilliantly down upon Madison. Just as I had done for the previous two years, I made my way to Peace Park right next to State Street, just a mere stone's throw from the mighty B-Side Records. Also as before, I was so happy to witness my friends in Post Social perform live again and this time, I was also very excited to witness a performance by Madison's terrific Skyline Sounds for the first time as their wonderful debut release entitled "Color" (released September 18, 2015), superbly charmed my ears when I first heard it late last year, further amazing me to the significant amount of  priceless talent in the Madison music community.
Peace Park, April 22, 2017

From here, I wish to share with you the sights from another great Record Store Day featuring images of both local bands in action, plus some shots inside B-Side Records where I made some purchases as well as a pit stop I made to Mad City Music Exchange.

Shannon Connor: Guitar, Vocals 
Mitch Deitz: Guitar,  Vocals
Sam Galligan: Bass Guitar
Brendan Manley: Drums


Zach Guyette: Guitar, Synth
Alyssa Niemiec: Bass Guitar, Vocals
Mike Niemiec: Guitar, Vocals
Dave Zakos:  Drums

Mad City Music Exchange

As always, I send out my endless gratitude to Steve Manley at B-Side Records, Dave Zero at Mad City Music Exchange, the members of both Post Social and Skyline Sounds, plus all of the clerks and support staff at both stores for making this annual event, and each and every day their doors are open, cherished ones for me and for anyone who loves music, and enjoying the process of searching and discovering while supporting local businesses.

But even so, let's not simply relegate all of this to just one day. Support your local record store EVERY day!!!!
All photos by Scott Collins

Thursday, April 27, 2017


APRIL 21, 2017 was like...being inside of a kaleidoscope. No, that's not it...

OK...remember the interstellar ending of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), when the astronaut travels through a psychedelic wormhole? Yes, it was kinda like that. not quite...

OK, I have it was kind of like being inside of a rainbow, and dear readers, it was absolutely, unbelievably beautiful and I already want to go back!
Over the course of this blogsite, I have written reports of my concert experiences that have expressed over and again the joy and importance of being able to see live performances that dazzle and enthrall solely through the power of sheer musicianship and are not reliant a bit upon any sense of visual spectacle. 

From Lindsey Buckingham's intimate, skeletal solo performance I saw several years ago which served as a Master Class in how to sculpt a live show to the extraordinary Zappa Plays Zappa tour from last year, during which I was superbly lifted in being witness to some of the finest musicians on the plant playing some of the most impossible music so fluidly and brilliantly, just the act of seeing musicians and singers performing their chosen craft at the peak of their powers was more than enough for me--especially during this age when spectacle rules the day and often to the detriment of actual talent (it still stuns me that lip synching is not even questioned anymore let alone ridiculed).

All of that being said, I am not throwing down any gauntlet against any show that serves a more theatrical presentation. In fact, how I wish that I could have seen Pink Floyd, for instance, in their heyday, where the music and the visuals worked in tandem, creating a one-of-a-kind experience that blasts you away when you're there and furthermore, rivets itself into your memories. I have always wished to see a show like that but have never really had the chance. I've never seen U2. I've never seen Prince. And actually, even when I did see Todd Rundgren (on three occasions), the differences in each of his shows were more musical than overtly visual. In fact, the most visually explosive shows that I have seen achieved their goals mostly through some video screen effects and stunning stage lighting (Rush, Garbage and Tame Impala, all come to mind).

In the case of The Flaming Lips, who arrived in Madison's legendary Orpheum theater (a location that I am still getting used to existing as a concert venue as it served as a movie theater for many years long ago), the equally legendary band delivered a show unlike anything that I have ever experienced before--and honestly, dear readers and listeners, I mean EVER!

Before April 21, 2017, I had never seen The Flaming Lips, yet I have been more than aware of their iconic reputation regarding the carnival-esque nature of their live performances from props, lighting, balloons, and of course, the giant sphere in which bandleader Wayne Coyne inserts himself and rolls into the audience. Even so, nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced on this night--a concert that merged the visual, musical, emotional to even the spiritual to mammoth effect, creating what just may have been the very best concert that I have ever seen. Like I said before, it was absolutely beautiful.
After striding past the two giant mushrooms, proudly upon display next to the soundboard, a sight which made me laugh out loud to myself, I made my way to the front of the drenched in blue light stage and readied myself for the event. But before The Flaming Lips, there was the opening act and this one was a stunner.

Tabor Allen: Drums
Sasami Ashworth: Vocals, Keyboards, Synthesizers
Clementine Creevy: Lead Vocals,  Guitar
Devin O'Brien: Bass Guitar

Before the entered the stage, I had not ever heard of the band Cherry Glazerr but by the end of their 35-45 minute set, they became wholly unforgettable and a band that I am already anxious to hear more of. They were truly one of the very best opening acts I have ever seen.

Despite their unassuming appearance as they walked onto the stage--especially keyboardist/vocalist Sasami Ashworth, who with her sandals and knapsack upon her back, looked like a college student who had just stumbled out of the dormitory and into class--the four members of the band approached their opening act set as if they were a gang ready for a street fight.
Over the course of their twelve original songs, Cherry Glazerr blasted through their material with a ferocious energy that merged the genres of dark psychedelia, progressive rock, indie, punk rock and metal audaciously, effortlessly and with a skill that suggested material by The Doors, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin.

Yet, what struck me most of all, notably during the body slamming gut punches of "Nurse Ratched" and "Apocalipstick," was their resemblance to the earliest years of The Smashing Pumpkins, as the vicious darkness of Cherry Glazerr's music made me recall the doom and swagger of those alt-rock giants.

Band leader/vocalist/guitarist Clementine Creevy was compulsively watchable as her guitar fireworks and explosive, fitfully in motion stage presence ensured her rock star status superbly, as far as I am concerned. Drummer Tabor Allen unleashed his inner John Bonham as his booming, pummeling percussion sounded like cannons.
Cherry Glazerr treated their set with a take-no-prisoners attitude that was riveting to experience as it was as powerful as it was somewhat combative (Ashworth even exited the stage by delivering a seethingly petulant middle finger to the audience). This was a HUNGRY band in action, performing music armed with the sound of thunder and an intense confidence that found the group owning the stage as if The Flaming Lips' set was their very own.

Derek Brown:  Guitars, Keyboards, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Wayne Coyne: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Steven Drozd: Guitars, Keyboards, Synthesizers, Drums, Backing Vocals
Matt Duckworth: Drums, Percussion, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jake Ingalls: Keyboards, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Ivins: Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Nick Ley: Electronic Drums, Percussion, Samples

Yet even with the powerhouse that was Cherry Glazerr, even they could not have prepared me for the night's main event. For that matter, even knowing about some of The Flaming Lips' bag of theatrical tricks and treats beforehand, did nothing to prepare me for the astounding sense of wonder that would unfold over the course of the following 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Before I knew it, The Flaming Lips, now seven members strong, entered the stage. I stood at the lip of the left side of the stage, directly in front of singer/multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd, adorned with a rainbow colored cape and who stood behind several keyboards and synths, with guitar and even a vocoder and talkbox in tow.  At the opposite end of the stage stood co-founding member and bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Michael Ivins. Surrounding both Drozd and Ivins were newer band members guitarist/keyboardists Derek Brown and Jake Ingalls as well as two drummers, Nick Ley (who handled the more electronic beats) and Matt Duckworth (who bashed away at a more traditional trap set), and were both decorated with matching neon wigs, making them appear as if they were the band's requisite "Thing 1" and "Thing 2."

At the center of the stage was the night's ringmaster/dream weaver, The  Flaming Lips' bandleader/chief vocalist Wayne Coyne, who was a most gracious host for the entire show, smiling from ear to ear consistently, and appearing to be held in triumphant spirits overall, making his mood infectious for the entire audience of the Orpheum.
And so, after a fairly lengthy preamble, which was successfully designed to build excitement, the show began with an astounding dynamism. Smoke machines, a sky full of falling confetti and enormous balloons filled the Orpheum as the blazing, brilliant light show illuminated the stage as the band opened with the glorious "Race For The Prize." 

A "WOW!" moment if there ever was one, my mouth dropped open in amazement at the sights of the confetti and balloons, my ears filled with incredible music augmented by the excited screams of the audience around me. I was hit repeatedly by balloons, which I then batted around myself and I felt my face explode into the widest of smiles for THIS was undeniably a universe of unadulterated fun, which did not let up over the following selections, the hip-hop influenced dream pop of "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1," which found giant cartoon characters upon the stage dancing among the band, swirling lights and balloons, and the darkly brooding party-at-the-end-of-the-world wishlist "There Should Be Unicorns," the first performed selection of the night from the band's latest album "Oczy Mlody" (released January 13, 2017), a song which found Coyne wearing a set of rainbow wings and riding, of all thing, a unicorn directly into and around the audience as he sang as laser beams danced over our heads.
For song after song, most of the material culled from the beautiful trilogy of albums "The Soft Bulletin" (released May 17, 1999), "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" (released July 16, 2002) and "At War With The Mystics" (released April 3, 2006) plus the aforementioned "Oczy Mlody," The Flaming Lips dazzled constantly and superbly, miraculously ensuring that every selection possessed its own specialized visual component, ensuring the reality of one eye-popping surprise after another.
A gong, when struck, detonated the stage into blinding blasts of light during the Floyd-ian "Pompeii am Gotterdammerung." Synthetic animated hearts danced across the large movie screens during "The Castle." Dancing eyeballs grooved on stage to "The W.A.N.D." Coyne performed a lovely guitar piece during "The Observer," while standing underneath an inflatable rainbow and engulfed in streams of light. Yet for as awe inspired fun as every special effect happened to be, I was gradually undone by how subtly the images became increasingly poignant, as they richly and seamlessly merged with all of the music, superbly performed and sung by the entire band.

I am certain that for the more cynical, the special effects and attractions would be viewed as existing as cheesy and corny accouterments designed to distract the audience from the music. That the concert was nothing more than spectacle over substance. Yet to that, I wholeheartedly and passionately disagree as The Flaming Lips proved that pyrotechnics and special effects, when utilized properly, can not only enhance and provide an even broader definition to the already wonderful music, the effects can weave an inexplicable spell that allows the music and the event overall to become a work of transcendent art, completely filled with purpose, a message, and a current of uplift, that if you allowed, it would carry you to emotional terrains you previously hadn't planned to visit during a rock concert.

It was because of the visuals that I realized just how meticulously plotted The Flaming Lips concert actually was. The songs were sequenced magically, with the bright symphonic pop songs giving way to a deeply profound and existential melancholy that is as individualized as it is universal as the band tackled subjects that carried veiled political (yet wholly non-partisan) statements plus songs that explored our own sense of isolation, pain, sorrow, hope and hopelessness, to even our own mortality and the reality of living in the NOW to the absolute fullest as the nature of life itself is so unforgivably brief in the grand scheme of looking at the human race's place in the universe and the cycle of existence.    
For me, everything came together as a galaxy of stars softly flowed from the screen and into the audience, as if we were viewing outer space in a 3D realism while the band played a quiet, almost lullybye-ish song conjuring a feeling on interstellar loneliness. And then, Wayne Coyne emerged, smiling widely from inside the giant ball, which soon descended into the audience who then lifted Coyne up highly as he sang. The song was David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and allow me to tell you that The Flaming Lips' performance was so wonderful, I think that even Mr. Bowie himself would have smiled in pride and appreciation if he were able to have heard it.
The juxtaposition of emotions during this song were palpable to say the least. To find myself within such an enthralled collective of strangers, all witnessing and hearing this letter perfect cover version of a rock classic as a veil of stars seemed to float all around the room and with Wayne Coyne himself, hoisted above the crowd as he sang wistfully, made me realize all over again that David Bowie was gone, which then further made me think about Prince, who had passed away exactly one year ago to the day, which then made me think of everyone in the room--from the band to all in the audience--realizing the one stitch of commonality between us all: one day, we will all find ourselves at the moment during which we will die, yet here we were in this beautiful point of a shared existence. Needless to say, tears welled up in my eyes.
For other songs of the night, from the booming "Are You A Hypnotist??," the pensive "How?," the shattering "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate," and all the way to the fragile "Waiting For A Superman" (which Coyne plainly described as a "sad song," and was performed solely by himself and Drozd sans even one special effect) and the band's signature anthem, "Do You Realize??," The Flaming Lips continued to ascend to greater heights while providing one tender-hearted yet defiant grace note after another.
"Defiance" and "grace." Yes, that's it. Defiance and grace or even so...gracefully defiant! That is possibly the best way to describe the emotional release I felt from The Flaming Lips' outstanding concert.

For all of the outlandish fun (yes, Wayne Coyne did indeed toss a enormous "FUCK YOU MADISON" balloon into the audience early in the show), it was through the arrangement of the music plus the visuals that drove the messages straight into my heart. The concert felt entirely communal and inclusive. It was the grandest of parties where the band were participants as well as the most gracious hosts, and as previously mentioned, Coyne was relaxed, confident and again, all smiles throughout the entirety of the night.
The Flaming Lips ensured that everything was laid out for all of us. Certainly the psychedelic atmosphere and then some! But for the substance, the inner workings and content that spoke to the soul...well, it was all there in the music, and I am unable to stress the content enough.

Songs of Science and spirituality, power and powerlessness, existential heartache, musings and melancholia plus themes of hope, fear, the inevitability of our impending mortality and the euphoria of love, all of which culminating in the undeniable truth of this very shared moment, this connective tissue of the ephemeral spirit of music binding us together with the hopes of proving some sense of harmonic convergence...even if only for the duration of their show. Politics were never mentioned but most certainly implied as the plea for humanity and empathy were paramount to me.

I wondered if my emotional response to the show was mine alone. Yet, by the night's final song, I looked over to my immediate left to see a teenaged boy, possibly 17 or 18 and attending the concert with his parents, completely overcome with feeling. He was hunched over, shoulders heaving and he was openly sobbing, his face streaming with tears.

As I was exiting the Orpheum, grown adults and longtime fans also carried faces with puffy eyes from crying and slack jawed smiles of amazement at the night we all s hared. I even saw fans hugging each other openly smack in the middle of State Street, all offering words of the wonderfulness of the show. Again, for all of the cynics who would decry against the spectacle, to them I say simply and emphatically, "The spectacle fucking worked!"
The Flaming Lips delivered a concert experience that was blissfully overwhelming, completely unforgettable and stupendously one-of-a-kind as I have never seen a show of this sort in my life. It more than exceeded any expectations that I could have harbored and it is an experience that wish that I could re-live.

Like I said at the was absolutely, unbelievably beautiful and I sincerely wish that all of you have the opportunity to take a voyage with The Flaming Lips so you can experience it for yourselves.
All photos taken by Scott Collins