Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Can We Talk About...The Flaming Lips Covering Devo?

For those of you not yet indoctrinated in the cult, The Flaming Lips are worth worshiping.

The Oklahoma City group is as well known for their sound, existing somewhere between 60's acid psychedelia and futuristic peace rock, as they are for their over-the-top stage show which has lead them to be considered one of the most important bands to see live before leaving this earth (and traveling on a beam of light energy that leads to stars unknown). For those of you who haven't witnessed the Lips in person may wonder why such praise, but the truth is that they produce one of the most amazing spectacles not induced through chemical assistance.

I recently got to catch their most recent live set, organized to be on the same wavelength as their most recent album The Terror, and it was awe-inspiring. Gone were the giant hands and dancing Tin men, in their place a more somber atmosphere highlighted with silver orbs and a raised platform featuring frontman Wayne Coyne entangled by lighted tentacles. I imagine in many ways this is how the musical version of Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space" would appear (which I guess makes Wayne a cosmic Outer God?). The show was a mix of newer Terror works, choice The Soft Bulletin cuts, and  notable Yoshimi / Mystics singles but perhaps the highlight of the evening was their cover choice of Devo's "Gates of Steel".

The post-punk / new-wave oddities of Devo were, very much like The Flaming Lips, ahead of their time musically and stylistically. It makes perfect sense the Lips would choose to cover them. In the hands of electric blue Coyne and company this excellent, if somewhat lost to time, single off of Freedom of Choice is turned into a beautiful and haunting ballad. What made it even more poignant was the fact that a founding member of Devo, Bob Casale, had recently passed.

Before going into the cover Wayne discussed how Devo, in not being afraid to be weird and make the music they wanted to, was heavily influential to what would become The Flaming Lips. They promised to continue this tradition and dedicated the song that night to Bob No. 2. It was a fitting tribute, an amazing performance, and an amazing night.

Attached is a video shot by the band performing the song (seven months before Casale passed). Apparently they've been performing it at almost every recent performance. Doesn't make it any less special.


Till Then...twist away,

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