Wednesday, May 28, 2003

A Good Night

We went to see Liz Phair and The Flaming Lips... it was incredible. One of our new friends took us to this really nice restaurant (which she was reviewing for CitySearch), in which we were pretty clearly the only heterosexual people; the rest of the crowd was pretty evenly divided between bears, drags, and dykes. They had a piano bar and a very mellow atmosphere, great food, and I even had a little wine (I usually don't drink, but in anticipation of the show later that night I thought I could use some boost to my pain meds). After dinner we went to the concert at the Crystal Ballroom, this 100-year-old place with chandeliers and baroque decor, with a huge dance floor that was polished smooth by the hems of ladies dresses long before I was born, now a slam pit when the Portland hip can be bothered to dance (they usually just stand there trying to look deep and unaffected).

Liz Phair was outstanding... the Flaming Lips had set up a camera attached to the microphone, with the video stream being broadcast on a screen that filled the back of the stage, so there was an infinite regression of Liz on the screen, and she is such a good performer, and beautiful as well. She played a couple of new songs, then cranked out a bunch of the older stuff (which still rocks). A very mellow and joyful experience. When she was done, I felt that her performance alone was worth going to that show.

Then the Flaming Lips came on, and these guys don't just play music, they put on a *show*. They had these movies that were synched to the music they were playing, and Wayne Coyne, the lead singer, talked quite a bit between songs... they really went out of their way to balance the 'show' aspect by creating a more intimate environment between the songs... then they'd turn around and rip your brain out of your head again when the next song started. Their albums remind me of old Pink Floyd (in style, not in content), where each song is a story in itself, but if you listen to the whole album a greater story emerges, and you see that each song has its own place in the contextual landscape. I saw the Flaming Lips once before, in 1987 I think, and while it was a good show it was nothing compared to this one... they have really grown as a band, and figured out a few things about entertaining.

I had to take some extra pain meds to get through the night, but it was worth it... just getting out and being human for awhile was a joyful thing, and seeing such a good show topped it all off.