Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Flaming Lips are testing out "bubble concerts" because this is never going to end

The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne at the 2019 Bourbon & Beyond Music Festival
The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne at the 2019 Bourbon & Beyond Music Festival
Photo: Stephen J. Cohen (Getty Images)

Wayne Coyne came to this pandemic prepared. For years now, the Flaming Lips frontman has been performing shows (and fending off airborne viruses) from inside an inflatable bubble. In June, during a performance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the singer’s antics took on a new resonance when the audience got bubbled up, too. Now, he’s preparing to test out this distinctly 2020 mode of live performance on a broader scale.

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Earlier this week, Coyne and other Lips members posted video and photos from a show at Oklahoma City’s The Criterion, where 100 audience members snug in space bubbles bounced as the band cycled through songs from its latest album, American Head. This follows a photo Coyne posted earlier this month of dozens of deflated bubbles covering the floor of the venue.

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According to one concertgoer, the show served as both a music video recording and a “test run” for more concerts in this style. “I mean, it seems absurd, but we at first were just doing it as not a joke, but just as a kind of funny thing, and now it’s becoming kind of serious and real,” Coyne said in an interview with Brooklyn Vegan. “I think that’s kind of the dilemma we’re all in is that are we waiting for it to go back to normal or are we starting to plot, ‘What’s the future look like?’ What is the future of live music?”

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He elaborated in an interview with Jambase, noting that more bubble concerts could happen following the election. “The part that we’re trying to get down is what does the crowd do about going to the bathroom and getting drinks?” he said, posing a question that’s been running through our minds since we first saw the bubbles.We don’t want this to be [a super spreader event] like that Smash Mouth [concert]... The part about playing in the bubble, we already have down. It’s how we get the crowd in and out without cross-contamination that we need to figure out.”

Confront your claustrophobia with some fan footage of the concert below:

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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