Indie icon Mac DeMarco teamed up with alternative-rock veterans The Flaming Lips for a night filled with confetti, unicorns and profanity in The Moody Theater this past Sunday.
Story by Zoe Judilla
When the joint-headlining tour of Mac DeMarco and The Flaming Lips was announced, fans expected an unforgettable evening. With a cult fanbase, most of the crowd eagerly waited for the psychedelic-alternative singer-songwriter, but The Flaming Lips unexpectedly stole the show.
DeMarco entered the stage with a bottle of Jameson in one hand, a bottle of beer in the other and one more in his back pocket, just in case. He grinned ear to ear as he reached for the microphone, encouraging the city of Austin to smile at its neighbors, keep hydrated and make themselves at home. And with that, the first note of “On the Level,” a single from his newest album, “This Old Dog,” rang out.
Loyal fans were ecstatic to hear new material live, and even more so after he transitioned into a classic, “Salad Days.” Every corner of the room was satisfied as he played an evenly mixed set of old and new, from “No Other Heart” to “Ode to Viceroy,” while bantering back-and-forth with the audience. He continually kissed his pastel yellow guitar, even handing it to the crowd to pay their respects. During DeMarco’s set, he brought up a birthday boy and let the crowd sing to him and drank frequently from his bottle of Jameson.
DeMarco hushed the crowd for a moment, announcing the next song to be an unreleased track that he was honored to play for the first time in Austin. His keyboardist began to play the famed notes of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” as those unprepared stood baffled and bemused. DeMarco sang solely the first line, “Makin’ my way downtown,” as the fans rang with laughter.
He then continued the show with new favorites such as “One More Love Song” and older ones such as “Chamber of Reflection.” Fans created the happiest mosh pit anyone had ever seen, with one person even running onto the stage and diving back into the sea of fans. At one point, an angry old man was caught in the crossfire, cursing at DeMarco to get off the stage. In response, DeMarco announced his last song, took a lighter out and began to set his chest hair on fire, as only he would, while telling the man to meet him outside.
The final song was a medley of DeMarco’s song “Together,” seamlessly intertwined with Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the Devils” and Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me.” DeMarco blew kisses to the fuming audience member as his set came to a close.
While most people came for DeMarco’s performance, they stayed for what came next. The Flaming Lips began to configure an intricate light setup that covered the area from stage to ceiling, leaving the crowd wondering what was in store.
Lead singer Wayne Coyne entered the stage dressed in a red suit and bejeweled eyepatch, greeting the audience as “Also Sprach Zarathustra” rang out, well-known as the instrumental song used in most space movie sequences. Complete silence immediately followed.
Suddenly, a spectacular burst of light shot through venue, mimicking a rainbow firework, as the band launched into a classic, “Race for the Prize.” The audience roared in a combination of shock and excitement. Coyne proceeded to trigger four confetti guns into the crowd, as well as a multitude of gigantic multicolored balloons meant to be tossed around by fans.
The audience went into a complete frenzy given the beauty of their surroundings. The dreamy, upbeat song smashed in sync with the light show, and as it came to a close, men brought out a huge metallic letter balloon sequence for Coyne that read, “F**k Yeah Austin,” whipping it around for the entire room to see.
The night was nothing short of magical. The audience watched as extravagant tricks continued, including a huge pink inflatable robot rising during “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1,” and Coyne magically appearing within the audience atop a traveling unicorn during “There Should Be Unicorns.” Honorable mentions included a large gong with lights that Coyne smashed in sync with the music, an aluminum shroud that shined with lights and a larger-than-life disco ball that descended from the ceiling to stun the audience.
A favorite that resonated with the crowd, however, was the cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” with the lights mimicking an abundance of stars. Coyne got into a giant, clear hamster ball and rode through the audience in honor of the late icon. As the set ended, Coyne brought out the local Barton Hills Choir to sing “The Spark That Bled” as a surprise, and closed the show with their most popular song, “Do You Realize??” below a gigantic, inflated rainbow arch.
The young fans who originally came for Mac DeMarco screamed for more as the 80s-originated band bid their farewells, while older fans shook their heads in awe. The Moody Theater was drenched in confetti and every person was on their feet for The Flaming Lips. “It was almost like each song was a finale,” audience member Zoe Roden says. “I knew less than half of the songs, but that was one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to.”
The combination of Mac DeMarco and The Flaming Lips created an experience that was out of this world, leaving both new and old fans wonderstruck and wanting even more of the spectacle they witnessed.