NEWS-Wish you were {t}here- The Flaming Lips, Charlottesville Pavilion, September 12, 2006

Loretta Lynn may hold the distinction of being the Charlottesville Pavilion's first headlining act, but the honor of most Pavilion firsts in a single performance has to belong to the Flaming Lips. To name a few:

First smoke-spewing cannons

First singing nun puppet

First roadies dressed as superheroes

First dancers dressed as alien women and Santa Claus

First video display that included footage of both the Iraq war and the Teletubbies

First lead singer to be passed around by the audience while enclosed in a transparent, inflatable "space bubble"

But for all the unprecedented visual presentation, these elaborate props and set pieces were not the stars of the show. Instead they were the perfectly over-the-top accents to the unabashedly bizarre, unrelentingly optimistic, and undeniably catchy music that the Lips play on tour every night.

For two hours, Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, and Michael Ivins replicated the high energy of their albums for the Pavilion audience. But, like Tinkerbell reviving Peter Pan, the band insisted they couldn't do it without audience participation. The 2,300 audience members were happy to comply with everything from letting loose a scream that Coyne said was "equal to a bomb going off" in "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" to hugging the person next to them at the end of "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton."

Other highlights included an extended version of "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pts. 1 and 2," the fuzz guitar and strobe light-laden "The W.A.N.D.," a politically charged cover of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," and, of course, the playing of much-beloved hits "She Don't Use Jelly" and "Do You Realize?" 

At show's end, Coyne remarked how the group had never played Charlottesville in their 23 years of touring. Now that they had, he said, they hope to return. Judging from the eruption of cheers, it appeared the feeling was mutual.

Dancing aliens

Wayne Coyne surfs the crowd in a giant bubble.

Steven Drozd, Kliph Scurlock, and Wayne Coyne

The Flaming Lips wowed the Charlottesville Pavilion audience.