Returning to the Pageant in their near-annual pilgrimage, The Flaming Lips brought their legendary live performance to a sold-out crowd and left an aftermath of confetti, streamers, and laser glow in its wake.
The Flaming Lips are a band that I've wanted to photograph from my very start as a music photographer. Even before their seemingly perpetual festival circuit over the last few years and singer Wayne Coyne's human hamster ball shtick, the band had gained a renown for epic live shows filled with confetti, pyrotechnics, and inventive props.
I'd come close to photographing the Flaming Lips in 2007, but it was not to be. So when I'd heard that the band was making a return to the Pageant this year, I was dead set on photographing the show. Not even lungs full of smoke could have stopped me.
So, was it worth the three year wait to photograph what may just be the best rock show on the planet?
After three long years shooting gigs of all kinds, I finally got my shot at the spectacle that is the Flaming Lips' concert. It did not disappoint. But than again, how could it?
With confetti cannons blasting off right out of the gate and the flurry of streamers and giant balloons, photographing the Flaming Lips from the front of the stage felt like being inside of a ever-shaken snow globe. It's a big party.
For this shoot, I concentrated on shooting Wayne Coyne. Apologies to the other guys in the band – I'm going to blame it on the balloons.
In case you were wondering: Yes, Wayne does do the hamster ball at indoor venues – it's not just at outdoor festivals :
To be completely honest, though, I think that the hamster ball shot is probably past it's prime. The inflatable ball has seen so much use over the last six years that the plastic is pretty filmed over with marks and wear. Gone are the glory days when you could get clear, recognizable shots of Wayne grinning like a child. This isn't to say that it wasn't an exciting shoot to have the ball roll past me at 14mm – I don't think that thrill has faded in the least.
For this shoot, I used a bit of everything. During the first song where Wayne rolls out in the ball and then comes back on stage popping the confetti-filled balloons, I used the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 extensively. Around this time and into the second song, I switched a bit more to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, the range of which was great for the more medium distances when Wayne was rocking the megaphone and riding the bear.
During the third song, I switched to the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 for the telephoto reach, as Wayne had at this point stepped back to mid stage to rock the mic.
Now that I've finally photographed the Flaming Lips, I feel as though I've at long last checked this off my bucket list. But, just like KISS, I can't wait to photograph this band again.