August 30, 2006

There Is An End

It's true, my summer officially ended somewhere along the road back from the best back-to-school bash I could have possibly imagined. I was dead on my feet for the first day of school, and I've got confetti all over my room and my car, but it was all worth it. The triple threat of The Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, and The Magic Numbers delivered with all I could ask for and then some.

An ominous sky and a tornado watch did not keep The Magic Numbers from taking the outdoor stage at Promowest Pavillion right on time. Their set was short, and apparenly culled mostly from an as-of-yet unreleased album, but was tight and entertaining. While I was not familiar with their work, they imparted such a fun New Pornographers-esque vibe, that it was hard not to enjoy. Great male-female vocal dynamics, coupled with riff-filled melodies provided a perfect appetizer to the onslaught of Sonic Youth.

Screams erputed as Thurston Moore sauntered onstage, fresh from a 'secret' solo performance in Columbus the night before, launching into a pitch perfect rendition of "Teenage Riot". A ten-minute collage of feedback, replete with a guitar-neck lightsaber battle between Thurston and Ronaldo, capped off the song in true Daydream Nation style. The rest of the night was devoted to new tracks from Rather Ripped, a rearranged version of their show at Blossom. What was different this time was that I was directly in front of Thurston in the front row, and watching that man play does not get old. I can't begin to fathom some of the tunings he uses (which I noticed are conviently written on the back of all his headstocks) but seeing him pull it off is simply inspirational. Getting to hear "Pink Steam" again was a treat, and featured the most impressive light show of the Sonic Youth set. The night ended with another scorching rendition of "Shaking Hell", a fitting end to a set that seemed to drench the crowd in a wave of noise and melody of a variety that only Sonic Youth can procure.

The setting of the stage for The Flaming Lips' set was a spectacle in itself. The giant screen was pulled forward as Wayne and the rest of the band performed their own soundcheck. This time, Wayne got into his giant space-bubble and 'decended from the heavens' to roll on top of the crowd. The set that followed was a carbon copy of their performance at Blossom, but being in the front row made the experience that much more intense and personal. We were blasted with confetti during every chorus of "Do You Realize??" and choked with smoke throughout "Free Radicals" and "The W.A.N.D.". Sure, I'd seen every single stage trick earlier this summer, but witnessing it from about 5 feet away seemed to make the experience fresh. The crowd was pumped, and made up for Wayne's strained vocals at the show's halfway point. All those in attendance (at least around me) were nailing every word of the sing-a-longs, and kept the excitement rolling until the very end. The on-stage dancers were in constant motion, and during "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. I & II" I was getting blasted in the face with a balloon every other second. The night ended on a high note, with the performance's only deviation from my previous live Lips experience; the encore of The Soft Bulletin's "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton". It was only when the Lips had left the stage for the final time that the rain started again, a fitting reminder that all good things must pass. The Flaming Lips capped off my final hoorah of the summer in a grandiose style which will be hard to top. Do yourself a favor and see these Okies sometime, you won't regret it.

Video Montage of Sonic Youth and the Flaming Lips Performance

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