Butthole Surfers, Stone Temple Pilots, Flaming Lips Invade New York

Testosterone, psychosis reign at Roseland

The Flaming Lips at Roseland in New York City.
Ebet Roberts/Getty
The Flaming Lips at Roseland in New York City.
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Butthole Surfers, Stone Temple Pilots, Flaming Lips
New York City
Roseland Ballroom
August 4, 1993

You can't deny a Texas good ol' boy, especially an ornery, borderline-psychotic one. Stone Temple Pilots might have sold millions of records, but it was the Butthole Surfers – particularly frontman Gibby Haynes – who worked the headlining spot like the degenerate, proudly wiseass legends that they are.

Haynes – pasty, pudgy, shirtless bod displayed without apology – entered shooting blanks from a shotgun, declaring, "We're the goddamn motherfucking Butthole Surfers." And indeed they were, lurching through safe-ty-pin-in-your-ear 70s punk ("Goofy's Concern"), doomladen, psychedelic guitar work courtesy of Paul Leary and the set's highlight, "Who Was in My Room Last Night?" a malevolent, amphetamine-fueled industrial epic, delivered with just the right amount of paranoia.

None of the films projected on the back wall were as gleefully disgusting as BHS' former staple: medical footage of some kind of penis operation, complete with incisions and blood. But the Butthole Surfers inadvertently ended their set in a style that has made them a cult favorite for years. As Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd filled in for the encore, Butthole drummer King Coffey proceeded to bounce around the stage – and tripped, fell and reportedly broke his arm.

The tribes of Lollapalooza were there for the Stone Temple Pilots – the single most intense moment of the evening came when STP materialized from a cloud of billowing stage smoke and proceeded to rock out, while the sold-out Roseland audience went ballistic. The band hates comparisons to the Seattle scene, and even though their hit "Plush" is embarrassingly Pearl Jam-like, their focus is indeed different. STP's strong point is a muscular SoCal energy – primordially fierce, like those-tigers-kill-antelope nature films they're always hawking on the Discovery channel. If their collective persona could be more clearly defined, their songs would have an undeniable power. "Wicked Garden" was magnificently gloomy, while "Piece of Pie" thundered at literally headbanging velocity.

Earlier in the year, the Stone Temple Pilots turned down the opening slot on Aerosmith's tour, ostensibly because they didn't feel ready for arenas. They needn't have worried: their giant riffs and bigger-than-life stage presence practically scream enormodome.

The Flaming Lips might fare better on a less, um, testosterone-heavy tour. Live, the weird, whimsical poppiness of their sound toughened up. Wayne Coyne's voice, thin and wavery on disc, took a more authoritative stance. But the most striking qualities of their album Transmissions From the Satellite Heart – the juxtaposition of folkiness and absurdity (imagine the Andy Griffith Show theme's evil twin), the undulating, atonal melody lines – were lost in the process.

Even the effects didn't jibe. The Flaming Lips' requisite stage smoke, which gushed forth during their finale, "One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning," was surely meant as a dramatic enhancement – but came off more like the first signs of an electrical fire.

This story is from the September 16th, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone.


From The Archives Issue 665: September 16, 1993
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