The Oklahoma-based psychedelic rock band Flaming Lips is known as much as its trippy space-rock music as for their stage show.
Past shows have involved — but have not been limited to — fantastic costumes, balloons, puppets, video projections, complex lighting, giant appendages, blanketing amounts of confetti, and, of course, frontman Wayne Coyne’s signature transporter: a man-sized plastic bubble that travels over the crowd much like your hamster.
Flaming Lips are the second headliner of this summer’s Twilight Concert Series, and there is only one aspect that hesitates us from our expecttyions of perhaps one of the most visually arresting concerts ever to land in Pioneer Park.
It is the fact that the band’s most recent album —unlike past affairs such as 2002’s album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and their best-known song, 1995’s “She Don’t Use Jelly” — is a sobering meditation on loss and despair. There aren’t any songs about robots, Sweet Jesus, or Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World on the new album, somberly called “The Terror.”
“The show we’re doing now is different from last year, with the new record,” said the Lips’ multi-instrumentalist, Steven Drozd, 44. “We’re trying to break out of the mold.”
But both Drozd and Casey Jarman, director and founder of the Twilight Concert Series, said that what passes for minimalism for the Flaming Lips is still far expansive than what most other bands utilize during their live shows.
“They’re the Flaming Lips,” Jarman said, adding that the band is bringing plenty of elements to make this likely one of the most eye-popping shows in Twilight’s recent history.
“The presentation of music is just as important as the music,” Drozd said.
As for “The Terror,” Drozd said that during the recording of the album, he could sense the bleakness enveloping the music. “It seemed like an extreme, dark record,” he said. But as time has passed since the April release of the album, he doesn’t feel that way anymore. It is music that is ultimately rewarding and while the layered cacophony the band is known for can be overwhelming, glimmers of hope and love still poke through. After all, the band is working on a future album that will include an extensive collaboration with, of all people, the glittery pop tart Ke$ha.
Laying the groundwork for Flaming Lips on Thursday will be opening band CSS, an acronym for “Cansei de Ser Sexy,” a rough translation of something Beyoncé once said, that she was “tired of being sexy.”
CSS is an all girl-group from São Paulo, Brazil, and provocative singer Lovefoxxx — yes, three “x”s — sings in Portuguese as well as in English. The pop group is best known for its insanely addicting song “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex,” which was featured prominently in ads for the iPod:
Music is my boyfriend
Music is my girlfriend
Music is my dead end
Music is my imaginary friend
In a phone interview, Lovefoxxx admitted that when it comes to staging shows like the Flaming Lips, they haven’t been able to elevate the visual appeal of their shows. “We put thought into it, but we [usually] play medium-sized venues, and it costs money.”
And although Brazil’s geographical size is larger than the continental United States, U.S. covers the entirety of the country, unlike in Brazil, Lovefoxxx said. Dragging complex sets from Maine to Utah isn’t feasible for a band of their size, she said.
Lovefoxxx didn’t fret about CSS’s “always dancey” appeal, especially during the summer. “Together we do something special,” she said.
And who gets tired being sexy, really?
Twilight Concert Series Night No. 2
Flaming Lips with CSS
When • Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m.
Where • Pioneer Park, 350 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $5 at 24Tix and at gate