The Flaming Lips @ The Anthem – November 16th 2021
The Flaming Lips @ The Anthem – November 16th 2021

Live Review: The Flaming Lips @ The Anthem – November 16th 2021

Like many bands, The Flaming Lips started 2020 looking ahead to a big year. Their sixteenth studio album, American Head, was in production and scheduled to be released in September, and a full slate of tour dates was booked. Then COVID-19 came, and everything ground to a near standstill. The band managed to play a small number of socially-distanced “space bubble” shows in Oklahoma, in which everyone – band and audience – was enclosed in large, inflated plastic balls, but it wasn’t until late summer 2021 that they were able to finally get on the road again.

And it was that the band came to The Anthem in Washington, DC, the last date on their schedule, triumphant in the fact that they had managed to complete a full tour, without having to cancel or reschedule again, despite the continued chaos in the world around them. What might have seemed insignificant during normal times felt like a major win, and band leader Wayne Coyne made it a point to note the accomplishment to the fans who had packed the venue.

Of course the show wasn’t quite the normal Flaming Lips show. The largely masked audience shouted and screamed their support to the band, but Coyne’s direct interaction with them started and ended with encouraging this support. The large plastic bubble in which he had, in past times, used to take a stroll over top of the audience, became his own safe zone sitting static on the stage. Coyne stayed in the bubble through most of the show, only emerging masked to perform “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1” in front of the now iconic inflatable robot, and to toss out a balloon reading “Fuck Yeah Anthem DC” into the audience at the end of the night as the final song “Race for the Prize” drew toward its conclusion. There was confetti, but there were no unicorn rides.

Despite these changes, though, all of the frenetic energy that comes with a Flaming Lips show was still palpable throughout the room. The set consisted of a mix of tracks from the now not-quite-so-new American Head and now classic songs like “My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion,” “Assassination of the Sun,” “All We Have Is Now,” and, of course, the ubiquitous song that likely introduced many in the room to the band nearly two decades ago, “She Don’t Use Jelly.”

Having completed this round of touring, the Flaming Lips head home for a break, but they’ll be playing a pair of shows in Tennessee over New Years, followed by another round of touring in the US and Canada starting in late March. If they’re coming to your town, you won’t want to miss them.

Particle Kid, the project of Micah Nelson (youngest son of son of Willie) opened the show with a high energy set, and Nelson joined the Flaming Lips on stage for “Will You Return/When You Come Down,” reprising an appearance that he made on the latest album.

The Flaming Lips Setlist

My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion
Do You Realize
Assassins of Youth
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
Flowers of Neptune 6
Assassination of the Sun
You Have to Be Joking (Autopsy of the Devil’s Brain)
She Don’t Use Jelly
Silver Trembling Hands

Will You Return/When You Come Down
Mother I’ve Taken LSD
Sunship Balloons
Dinosaurs on the Mountain
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate

Worm Mountain
All We Have Is Now
Race for the Prize


The Flaming Lips

Particle Kid

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