The psychedelic rock band Flaming Lips is known as much for its trippy space-rock music as its stage show.
Past shows have involved 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.
Based in Oklahoma, The Flaming Lips headline the second show of this summer's Twilight Concert Series and will perform from their most recent album, "The Terror," 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 unlike 2002's album, "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," or the band's best-known song, 1995's "She Don't Use Jelly."
"The show we're doing now is different from last year, with the new record," said Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd, 44. "We're trying to break out of the mold."
But minimalism to the Flaming Lips is still more expansive than what most other bands employ during their live shows, and series founder-director Casey Jarman believes the concert on Thursday, July 25, likely will be one of the most eye-popping shows in Twilight's recent history.
"They're the Flaming Lips," he said.
Drozd said fans shouldn't be worried: "The presentation of music is just as important as the music."
As for "The Terror" album, Drozd said that during recording he could sense the bleakness enveloping the music. "It seemed like an extreme, dark record," he said. But since the April release, he no longer feels that way. 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 an album that will include an extensive collaboration with, of all people, the glittery pop tart Ke$ha.
Opening act • 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 BeyoncÃ© once said, that she was "tired of being sexy."
CSS is an all-female group from SÃ£o 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.
In a phone interview, Lovefoxxx admitted that when it comes to staging shows like the Flaming Lips, her group hasn't been able to elevate the visual appeal of its shows. "We put thought into it, but we [usually] play medium-sized venues, and it costs money."
Lovefoxxx didn't fret about CSS' "always dancey" appeal, especially during the summer. "Together we do something special," she said.
And, really, who gets tired of being sexy?
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.