If you’ve ever had the chance to see the Lips live, something strange will happen – thousands of strange things will happen. You’ll be showered in confetti. You’ll be surrounded by people tripping on any drug that can be snorted, swallowed or injected. Your eyes will burn from the bright lights. And you’ll remember it as one of the best days of your life.
That’s what makes U.F.O.s at the Zoo such a fantastic idea. The DVD – with lots of needless extras – shows The Flaming Lips’ homecoming concert in their old stomping grounds of Oklahoma City. The show witnesses the debut of their preposterous, stage-engulfing U.F.O. mothership – reminiscent of Parliament’s own spacecraft from the ’70s – that descends from the top of the arena in smoky, neon-lighted, overloaded beauty. And if that wasn’t strange enough, lead singer Wayne Coyne goes on to pop out in a giant hamster ball, rolls down the ship and proceeds to crawl over top of the inebriated, gyrating crowd.
Absurd doesn’t even come close to describing the mayhem during this epic, two-hour party.
Along with the usual hits, you also get 15 dancing Santas on one side of the stage and 15 aliens on the other, hundreds of confetti cannons, huge balloons, streamers, smoke, lights, enormous foam hands, a megaphone that blasts smoke, a nun hand-puppet and fake blood. All of this is set at a zoo amphitheater.
U.F.O.s is essentially a documentary of the entire day leading up to the climatic concert itself. Interspersed throughout the concert footage are clips of the borderline insane fans that frequent Lips’ shows – one saying that the band made her a “healthier person” – and some shots of the zoo animals. At one point, Coyne even references a rumor that had floated around during the day: everyone should go out and set the animals free. It’s a scary thought made even worse when you witness the thousands in attendance actually looking like they want to do it.
Very little is normal over the entire concert, but The Lips’ songs are still solid in live form and maybe even better than on the albums. Old favorites like “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “She Don’t Use Jelly” elicit great crowd response while “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” is rich with emotion after an improvisational acoustic beginning with the crowd shouting the “yeah yeah yeahs” back at Coyne. “Race for the Prize” opens the festivities with normal absurdity met with a sea of hand-waving and popcorn-popping actions of the crowd. The newer songs like “The W.A.N.D.” are as flawlessly executed as their older tracks.
Saying that you need to see the Flaming Lips before you die is an understatement. Maybe U.F.O.s at the Zoo is a bit overwhelming for a TV screen and a little scattered at times, but if you can’t make it to a live outing, U.F.O.s at the Zoo gets pretty fucking close to the real thing.