The Time I Cried At A The Flaming Lips Show

by - July 19, 2022

Photo courtesy of Dana Gorab

I always wondered how people become followers of "cult bands". Well, well, well, here is the story of how I became just that.

I've seen The Flaming Lips live five times so far and it's going to be a lifelong ritual to see them every single time I possibly can. This story begins kind of dark though. On June 16, 2012, I had tickets to see Radiohead - instead, a terrible incident happened at Downsview Park in Toronto, Canada. While lined up outside with tickets in hand, eagerly waiting to get into the concert grounds, we watched parts of and heard the stage roof cave in from afar. What we didn't know at the time is that it had fallen onto members of the crew and ultimately killed their beloved drum technician and injured three other crew members. This information was not released to the public until days later, but all we knew was that ambulances were arriving on the scene and the concert had been indefinitely cancelled. Radiohead is not a band that tours very often, so not knowing about any injuries at that time, everyone waiting to get in to see their favorite band was devastated. Although we didn't know the extent of what happened, there was so much heaviness felt in the air from worry and disappointment. Before I move on with my story I want to take a moment to send my love and best wishes to everyone who suffered from this horrific incident, and love and respect to their beloved drum tech and family. Putting myself in that situation I can only imagine how horrifying and devastating an experience like this would be. There have been ongoing lawsuits since and I hope that the friends and families can be helped and find justice for this terrible event.

After this happened, about 10 people that I was going to the concert with walked to a nearby park. We sat and literally threw a ball around like we were all sad kinds from Charlie Brown. We then decided to look up what else in the city was going on and saw that The Flaming Lips were playing for free at Yonge and Dundas (If you don't know what that is, it's Toronto's take of Times Square). We all geared up and hopped on the subway to make it to that show on time. The air was heavy before The Lips hit the stage and somehow, looking around it felt collectively recognized. I knew only of The Lip's biggest songs - "Do you Realize" and the song from the Batman movie. With the knowledge of those two tracks I was actually really excited to see them play as I had zero expectations of what it was going to be like. Oh boy, now if you haven't ever been or seen what a Lips show looks like, be prepared, or don't be (cuz it's a fun surprise). You have never seen anything like it before nor will anything ever compare after. There will be the most colorful light shows you eyes have ever laid on, rainbow metallic confetti stuck in your clothes for months, frontman Wayne Coyne will be floating and singing around the crowd in a plastic bubble, the most intense synth and bass sounds injected into your veins, and overall there will be love felt so violently like you've never felt before. My senses were overloaded. The come down from a Lips concert sometimes takes days and it's wonderful. Wayne did mention his sorrow for the collapsed stage and his friends in Radiohead the night of that show as he knew that a lot of us had come over from that concert to this one. I cried so much that night for so many reasons. The emotions were just like the show, overloaded.

That concert was the first time my partner told me he was in love with me. Imagine a concert like what I've been telling you about, and on top of it, the young rush of love to make your heart flutter at a million miles per hour. I will forever connect my love for The Flaming Lips and their music to my still current love of 10 years. I cannot listen to a Lips song without hanging on to every sound and word as feelings of love are so deeply connected to the sounds. My first time seeing them was a beautiful, unforgettable snapshot that I cling to dearly in my life. Typing this out now I'm feeling choked up in my thoughts, thinking about that night and how emotions ran the gamut. I cried so hard and so much that night. I cried at my newfound admitted love. I cried worried about what happened back on that stage. I cried about life realizations, and I even cried holding strangers standing all around me that night. We all felt it. That night was one of those moments in life where you are in the moulting phases of being reborn. That's the night I realized magic really does exist in this world of ours. If you know what I am talking about, you know.

Since then I will never miss a Flaming Lips show. I've quit jobs, I've travelled, I've gotten tickets to whole festivals just to see them. Every single time I go, magic happens. If I were to get into every magical story that has happened at each of their shows, you would be here reading for a long ass time so I won't put you through that. lol. What I will say is that after that fateful summer night, I've over the years managed to meet Wayne Coyne and the rest of that gracious band to have beautiful chats with them. My band even hosted the official after-party here in Toronto the last time they played. I hope that one day I get to not only open for them (what a full-circle lifetime achievement that would be) but also get to work with them musically on a project. The Flaming Lips helped me believe that magic exists and that none of these dreams I want are too far fetched anymore. ✨🍄🌈

Here I am, 10 years later, an avid follower of a "cult band". Every person who goes to their shows then has a magical story to tell about it. In short, it's not just that time I cried at a show, it's that I will cry every single time I see or hear The Flaming Lips. It's a beautiful, magical, connective cry and It's comforting to look forward to.

- Sally Shaar, MONOWHALES

You May Also Like