SxSW: The Flaming Lips @ The Belmont

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Flaming Lips.

…and Guards, Surfer Blood, Atlas Genius, Frightened Rabbit, The Joy Formidable, and Alt-J.

I told you all last year that I pick at least one night per SxSW to camp at a bigger venue. Last year, it was The Belmont for Jesus and Mary Chain. This year, same venue for The Flaming Lips. Other than a weird unannounced show, when would I get any where near this close to Wayne and the boys? …save for holding up the plastic ball thing as Wayne walks out over an audience. Add to that several bands on the rise or with a prize, some I have seen before, some new to me, and one that I was massively apathetic towards. What did I discover? Read.

Oh and a massive shit ton of photos to go with everything…

Guards – I remember not remembering their set. Maybe I was overwhelmed by some of the performances to come, maybe it was just kind of flat. My friend also shooting the show said he thought they were great. So there’s that. Fifty/fifty split on meh versus great. I know I wasn’t offended. That I would remember.

Surfer Blood – John Paul Pitts continues the march back into good graces, sporting the adorable kitty whiskers, spending a big chunk of time in the crowd glad-handing. Their set was tight. They sounded great. They didn’t play “Anchorage”, but we all can’t have what we want when we want it.

Atlas Genius – Alt-Rock’s darling from Down Under. The dude can play guitar. He also spent a good chunk of time milling about in the crowd making friends. The kid next to me was all kinds of jacked up for this set, singing every word, feeling it. Little did he know, his highlight was yet to come.

Frightened Rabbit – What a phenomenal sounding set… So many moving pieces to deal with, layers and layers, harmonies, building momentum into song by song crescendo. I loved this. The latest material off of Pedestrian Verse sounded like it had been played a thousand times before. Dialed.

The Joy Formidable – Too much energy from Ritzy. Too many strobes. I got nauseous chasing her in the viewfinder as blasts of light swirled around. I think this band may be on to something. I think they may have a shot at true stardom. They sure as hell earn it up on stage and off. Ritzy made her way into the photo pit where the aforementioned kid next to me beat on her guitar to finish out their set. Fave photo of SxSW I have processed so far…

Alt-J – I really didn’t want to like this band. I kind of find them a little annoying and the long soundcheck didn’t help. You have a Mercury Prize, so what? Be on time. But truth be told, the songs made sense live. I enjoyed myself. A bit boring to shoot, but less time on the camera, meant more time just watching and listening. Still not a big fan, but anyone there to see Alt-J was happy.

The Flaming Lips – So glad I got to skip the big show at Auditorium Shores. First of all, we got Yoshimi. Second, I was closer than any festival rail could allow. Third, I heard only a few photogs got to shoot their set at Auditorium Shores because of over-zealous security (more on that in a later post). OHHHH YOOSHIMI! Being a full album play, plenty of the songs had only been played live once or twice or never. Despite running way late, Wayne was still his verbose self, explaining song origins and expressing gratitude. You could see real emotion coming from the front man, in fact, I think he welled up a bit after the best rendition of “Do You Realize” I have ever heard. Wayne was really singing. He was moved. We all felt something special.

More pics at the photo site

2 comments

  • Their set at Auditorium was incredible. They took a huge risk and played their entire new album… from start to finish. I thought that was a lot more interesting than their Yoshimi set, as I’ve heard them play those songs live at every single show (minus a couple of course)

  • Honestly, Yoshimi has a special place for me. One song had never been played live (Hypnotist) and another had only been played once or twice (Summertime). But yeah, neither show sucked. That is for sure.

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