Yes, boys and girls, it's finally here. New Year's is upon us and all that comes with it: endings and fresh beginnings, broken vows and new resolutions, closed chapters and the start of a whole new book. Along with all the clichés, we also get what has become our biggest excuse to celebrate.
What other time of year do we put as much effort into making plans to party? Whether our excuse is wringing out the old year or ringing in the new, New Year's Eve is when everyone seems to have and make specific plans.
Last week, we gave you a sneak preview of what's all in store in Tulsa, from shows with living legend B.B. King to local legends Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. No matter where you look, however, perhaps no other Oklahoma-born and bred band has a bigger reputation for letting its freak flag fly and throwing an unbelievable party than The Flaming Lips. And if you're going to party with The Lips, there's certainly no better time or place to do it than on New Year's Eve.
For Flaming Lips fans, the band's "New Year's Eve Freakout" has become a tradition. In fact, although it's common to the point of cliché for people flying to New York or Las Vegas for New Year's, it's not altogether unheard of for fans to make the trek from the coasts to Oklahoma City to celebrate with The Lips.
A Flaming Lips show is always something of a spectacle anyway. It's a mixture of music, impressionism and performance art as directed by the inspiration of front man Wayne Coyne. Where else are you going to find a man in a giant hamster ball, fake blood and more confetti than you can imagine, mixed with a rock band dead set on creating a sonic mind warp? Adding New Year's Eve to the equation only serves to up the ante. Perhaps the only way to make things any weirder would be to factor in a full moon.
Granted, it is true that The Lips' show hadn't changed drastically throughout the past few years, and it started to become a little predictable. "Free Radicals," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot," "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," "The W.A.N.D.," "Pompeii," "She Don't Use Jelly" and "Do You Realize?" have all become standard fare, along with "Bohemian Rhapsody" and maybe even a bonus "War Pigs" on a good night.
With 2010 at hand, however, the band has a couple extras in its hip pocket to pull out, with not one but two CDs worth of new material to pull from.
First and foremost is the latest Flaming Lips opus, Embryonic, with no less than 18 tracks of sonic candy. For the novice, Embryonic is something of a departure or expansion of what the group did with its previous disc, At War With the Mystics. For old school and hardcore fans, however, it's been heralded as a return to form: experimental and loopy with big, compressed drum sounds, heavy grooves and percussive and dissonant overtones cast against Wayne's trippy vocals and left field lyrics.
Featured appearances by Karen O (of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and MGMT are merely a bonus and create an additional debate of who gains more credibility from the collaboration? The Lips, for getting some cross-exposure, or the guests.
While an influx of new songs like "Convinced of the Hex" and "See the Leaves" promise to freshen up the set list and add a new life to the Flaming Lips main set, that's not the true big story for New Year's Eve this year. Instead of wrapping up at midnight with fireworks outside, a balloon drop or "Auld Lang Syne," the dawn of 2010 promises an even more surrealistic surprise.
Once midnight strikes, The Flaming Lips will return to the stage with opening act Stardeath and White Dwarfs to recreate Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. It's not a rumor--it's fact, confirmed by both bands and a digital only (so far) release of Dark Side on iTunes just last week.
Although Wayne Coyne was busy with additional press duties, his nephew (and Stardeath lead singer), Dennis Coyne, stepped in last week to discuss the NYE extravaganza and all that is planned.
"The New Year's gig is such a big event because it's really the only hometown show The Lips play every year," he said. "It has become an annual thing and one we usually get to play with the band, so it's always fun because it centers around New Year's Eve and the downtown area, in conjunction with The Flaming Lips.
"This year is especially nerve wracking, though, because we're playing Dark Side of the Moon. We usually play to a half-full arena with people milling around," he said, chuckling, "but this year we're coming back and regrouping at the end."
When asked about the agenda for the evening, Coyne said that Stardeath and White Dwarfs will open the show (featuring material from its full-length debut, The Birth, which was also released this past year), followed by a full Flaming Lips set from 10:30pm to midnight.
After a short intermission to go outside for the midnight fireworks, both bands will reconvene to play Pink Floyd's Dark Side album cover to cover to celebrate the New Year and extend the psychedelic mood of the party.
When asked how the two groups approached Dark Side of the Moon, especially in the studio, Coyne shared that the bands came together and essentially recorded everything in a mere three days.
"We were fairly limited on time," he said, "so a lot of it is fairly live, but both bands took shots at their own versions of a few songs, and the rest we played together. Basically, it's a mix of studio, home and live recordings, but I think it came out pretty good."
While response has varied (Lips and Stardeath fans have rejoiced, while Floyd fans have cried foul), the bands' reinterpretation of the material definitely makes you take pause.
As always, the Lips take proceedings in a new direction and regardless of critical response, fans have been all over it. The digital album immediately shot to iTunes "Top 5" sales list within hours of its official release.
Amazingly enough, as of press time, tickets were still available for The Flaming Lips' "New Year's Eve Freakout" at Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. Priced at $20 (there are also a few floor tickets left for $25 and a few uppers for $10), it makes this not only the biggest show in the state but also one of the most cost friendly. If you haven't already made plans, what are you waiting for? There's no better way to ring in a new decade than "freaking out" with the Flaming Lips--especially when they're channeling Pink Floyd.
Aside from the smorgasbord of concerts and parties for New Year's Eve, it's a fairly quiet weekend. Whether that's because the clubs expect us to be in recovery mode the rest of the weekend or because they spent more time planning for New Year's Eve than the weekend following is still up for debate. Nevertheless, there's always something going on and we've got a few of the highlights for you.
You can refer back to last week's issue of Urban Tulsa for a complete rundown of NYE gigs (check out "Ring It In!" at urbantulsa.com), but a few that bear repeated mention include Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's return to The Eclipse, blues legend B.B. King at Mabee Center, Grady Nichols and Earl Clark at the Jazz Depot and what serves as arguably Tulsa's biggest event, New Year's on Brookside with a countdown and lighted ball drop at KJRH, Channel 2 headquarters on Brookside and music by Okie Down and Eric and the Adams.
The Soundpony, normally a haven for indie-rock bands, is instead a sanctuary for DJs this weekend, ringing in the New Year with DJ Sweet Baby Jayzus on Thursday evening, followed by DJ Mooneyham on Friday, DJ Heady P on Saturday and DJ Dilation's "Sunday Funday" on Sunday, Jan. 3.
If you're looking for live music on Jan. 1, you can catch Copy Copy with Algebra, Popular Culture and Lizard Police at The Marquee or Wink Burcham at Arnie's.
Dustin Pittsley follows at Arnie's on Saturday for the blues rock crowd, while Billy Joe Winghead helps keep Mercury Lounge interesting and Hot Club of Cow Town headlines Cain's Ballroom with Three Penny Upright opening the show on Jan. 2.
Finally, Soundpony gets back to business with Pack of Wolves and Starskate on Wednesday, Jan. 6 as the weekend wraps up.
Whatever you do for New Year's, whether here in T-Town or in OKC, be safe, have fun and live by this motto: Work hard and play harder!
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