August 4th, 2002
It was ironic that the sun derailed the Flaming Lips' video system at this stop on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour – it was so bright that the screen was impossible to see. Stripped of their visuals, the Lips enlisted the help of four stagehands in animal costumes to kick balloons, go-go dance and launch confetti. By the end of the opener, "Do You Realize?," frontman Wayne Coyne had as much confetti in his hair as an astronaut after a parade.
In a way, the entire nine-song set had a celebratory feel, as the Lips mixed old songs such as "She Don't Use Jelly" with the sci-fi pop of tunes from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Coyne warned that "Waitin' for Superman" (off 1999's The Soft Bulletin) was a "sad song" – but there was no way the crowd was going to get depressed, with bassist Michael Ivins and instrumentalist Steven Drozd in rabbit costumes. And why not dress up? Nearing their twenty-year anniversary, the Lips are enjoying new heights of commercial success just as their dreamy psychedelic pop is maturing. It felt like the Lips could do no wrong – even a cover of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" scored. Coyne never stopped smiling: Whether he was basking in the band's triumph or simply happy he wasn't wearing an animal costume on a hot day, it hardly mattered.
This story is from the September 5th, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone.