Flaming Lips and Tame Impala put on euphoric show at Festival Pier

Kevin Parker of Tame Impala performs at Festival Pier on October 3rd, 2013.
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For my birthday this year, I was presented with something far more valuable than an ordinary gift: an experience. On October 3rd, I found myself at the Festival Pier in Philadelphia for both a surprising and exciting night with The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Tame Impala, and the Flaming Lips.

Upon arrival, I was instantly overwhelmed by the variety of people painted silver from head-to-toe and numerous others donning their homemade tie-dye gear. I started the night off confused as the music being played sounded foreign to me- at first I questioned if I even arrived at the right concert on the right night. What I did know, though, is that whomever I heard singing mimicked John Lennon’s voice better than anyone else I had ever heard. Within minutes, I was delighted to learn that the opener-before-the-opener was the recently-added band The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Sean Lennon’s latest experimental folk-pop group.

The band was a fantastic way to start off the night; after all, I was able to witness John Lennon’s son perform. The intricate guitar melodies and virtually indistinguishable vocals truly set the bar high for the acts to follow. My excitement and astonishment was especially hard to contain when the band ended with a Syd Barrett (past member of Pink Floyd) cover.

Shortly after Lennon’s band left the stage, Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala played a set that was out of this world, complete with synthesizers, groovy guitar riffs, and kaleidoscope projections that enhanced singer Kevin Parker’s dreamy melodies. Playing songs from both Innerspeaker and Lonerism, they found the time in their 75-minute set to burst into cosmic jam sessions reminiscent of the 60’s underground music scene (think Velvet Underground or the aforementioned Pink Floyd.)

Their performance was magical and completely surpassed my expectations. I think I speak for many when I say we were mesmerized. By the time their set had ended, the Festival Pier was packed with fans both young and old, anxious to experience what the Flaming Lips had in store for the audience.

Known for their flamboyancy and over-the-top performances, I better-understood the idea of “saving the best for last” as the Flaming Lips took the stage. The Oklahoma band’s set was absolutely mind-blowing: lasers, confetti cannons, strobe lights, fog, strings upon strings of lights, and a four-foot tall podium-like stand for front man Wayne Coyne to be seen from at any angle.

It was theatrical, with the eccentric Coyne cradling a baby doll and blinding the crowd with a giant fog light while songs were performed from recently-released album The Terror. It was unpredictable, with the confetti cannons “firing” when least expected, firecrackers being lit, and Coyne’s unfiltered humor delighting the audience between songs.

The encore was a beautiful experience in itself, as the popularized song “Do You Realize??” was sung loudly and harmoniously by both Coyne and the crowd in what felt like unified bliss and contentment. The night was long, but I still feel waves of nostalgia and the longing to repeat such a wonderful time with bands I cherish so much. The Indian Summer heat, along with the view of the illuminated Ben Franklin Bridge added a nice touch, too.

All three bands are talented and they each put on a show that was simply unforgettable. I recommend any person fond of any music genre to give them a try; in my opinion, it was the perfect birthday gift. Sometimes memories are the best gifts, and as the great Oscar Wilde once said, “Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.”

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