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Bonnaroo 2014 Saturday recap: The Flaming Lips take a Late Night mind trip

The Flaming Lips took to Which Stage for a career-spanning Late Night performance at Bonnaroo on Saturday.
The Flaming Lips took to Which Stage for a career-spanning Late Night performance at Bonnaroo on Saturday.
Photo by Stephen Lovekin

As Jack White's headlining set wound down on Saturday at Bonnaroo, you could almost feel the electricity in the air as fans knew this would be their last chance to catch one of the festival's signature Late Night shows in 2014. There was plenty of variety on offer, with Late Night sets from the likes of Nick Cave, Frank Ocean, and a Skrillex-led Superjam. On the Which Stage, Bonnaroo's biggest Late Night venue, festival favorites The Flaming Lips proved why they are the reigning kings of Late Night with a psychedelic mind trip of a 90 minute set.

After a year touring behind the uncharacteristic darkness of their album "The Terror", Wayne Coyne and company were ready to return to the land of trippy positivity with a career retrospective set that included numerous costumed characters in the form of magic mushrooms, aliens, and star creatures. The band was lit by a massive video wall that projected rainbows, sunrises, and psychedelic color swirls, and a series of LED light strings that gave an almost 3D effect to the stage.

The setlist pulled from The Flaming Lips' entire catalog. Fan favorites like "She Don't Use Jelly", "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “Do You Realize” melded perfectly with newer cuts from “The Terror.”

The band proved once again they are the reigning kings of modern psychedelic rock, with Steven Drozd and company providing a lush musical landscape to match the mind warping visual effects. But, as always with The Flaming Lips, it was frontman Wayne Coyne who acted as the night’s tour guide on this musical vision quest. Taking the stage sporting a pair of tiny butterfly wings, he announced that he had ground scored them the day before while watching A Tribe Called Red and was looking for their owner.

Coyne’s good humor was the star of the night. He has an uncanny ability to make a show in front of 15,000 people feel personal. He also provided what may end up replacing “F- Kanye” as the new graffiti wall catchphrase as, numerous times during the show, he would end a song by screaming “where’s the press at? Where’s the press at?”, poking fun at Kanye West’s rant from the night before.

There is a reason why The Flaming Lips are one of the most omnipresent festival bands in the world and a multi-time Bonnaroo performer. Their set on Saturday was another bound to be talked about chapter in the book of their careers.

In addition to the sets already mentioned, fans who stayed up extra late got a big surprise on Saturday. Skrillex, who had played Which Stage himself the night before and had just finished Bonnaroo's first EDM Superjam, climbed to the top of Bonnaroo's newest addition, the Calliope Stage, and gave an unannounced performance that lasted until after 7:00 a.m.

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