The Flaming Lips put on an ambivalent show on opening day of Rock Ness

Rock Ness 2009 Review

published: Thu 18th Jun 2009

The Flaming Lips

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June 2009
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£139 3-days with camping, £130 without camping (pay later options available)
last updated: Thu 28th May 2009

around the festival site (4)
Blessed with the scorching heat of a June Friday and a cloudless blue sky, Rock Ness lives up to it's slogan as the most beautiful festival in the world. By the time I arrive, the Rizla Invisible Players DJ arena is more packed today than it ever was at any point last year, with whistle blowing, neon painted dancers making sure that anyone crossing the entrance begins to feel the vibe as soon as they walk through the venue entrance.

The Aliens (2)
Opening up on the main stage are Fife crew The Aliens. Their diminutive frontman Gordon Anderson, jumping from the wings like a possessed anime character in baggy, patch covered shell-suit trousers, to deliver their brand of psychedelic, rock-tinged, electronic pop. I can't imagine that these guys would prefer to open up for any other festival, or any other act than either Rockness, or The Flaming Lips respectively. Despite the lackluster crowd attendance at the main stage at the time, Anderson and company manage to own the curious few. For a first time on such a large stage The Aliens prove that marquee value isn't even relevant when opening up such an eclectic festival.

If you had not been watching the sky all day like I had, wondering if it was wise leaving my wellies in the car at a festival were pass-outs are a pain in the arse, you probably didn't even notice the greying overhead as The Flaming Lips' crew load orange amp upon orange amp onstage. Spaced-out singer Wayne Coyne, even makes an appearance to test his confetti gun and mic, beaming from under his acid-laced grey hair. Starting the set with a taped orchestral fanfare, played over a montage of space nebulae rising to climactic crescendo, Coyne climbs into his hamster ball and crawls over the crowd gleaming like the proverbial child only just making back on stage for the band to burst into, 'Race for the Prize', from The Soft Bulletin'.

The Flaming Lips
Flanked by two crowds of dancing Teletubbies and what look like two Juggernaut exhausts spewing confetti, streamers and smoke, while Coyne bounds around the stage with his streamer gun, I can't help but think that I defy any act to put on a better show this whole weekend than The 'Lips. That being said, as the evening progresses, there's very little to appease the non-fan in this set, which is why the clash tent and other dance oriented venues are pulling many away from the main stage. Coyne stops frequently to discuss things like belief in conspiracy and the Loch Ness Monster, Barack Obama and the nature of a Flaming Lips audience, and therein lies the rub. It's not a Lips audience. Playing new material and album tracks like 'Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung' regardless of their popularity amongst fans, do nothing for those unfamiliar with the bands' huge body of work, however, 'Vaseline' and closer, 'Do You Realise?' seem huge and sound as epic as they come. It's an ambivalent show, certainly a great campsite talking point for the rest of the night as the clouds threaten to spew their ghastly worth all over the DJ's taking us through the night.

The Flaming Lips (2)
review by: Ross Gilchrist

photos by: Louise Henderson / Tommy Jackson

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th June 2009
Loch Ness, Scotland, Scotland MAP
£139 3-days with camping, £130 without camping (pay later options available)
last updated: Thu 28th May 2009


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