You, Your Fucking Life, and the Flaming Lips
I think we could all tell it was going to be a good day when we saw the orange. Every crew member that greeted us that morning was wearing bright safety orange, with bits of pink and red mixed into their ensemble.
It was also an immediate good sign when we noted that Shane and Sam were part of the crew. Shane spent years at the Crystal, where I and many others toiled, and Sam was a soundman supreme. They've both been touring with the Flaming Lips for three or so years now.
Yet another great sign was that the bass player for the band is also a full-time roadie. He worked onstage all day long, played a show that night, and did load-out too. Wayne Coyne was onstage for most of the day too, which is to say; a lead singer that not only didn't just stay on the bus all day, but came out and oversaw the technical aspects of the show. This is -frankly- unheard of.
It was pointed out to me early in the day by Shane that the tour is scaled down to bare bones, and that all the band members are techs, while all the techs have a role in the performance. He was wearing a shirt that had a hammer and sickle on it.
I think Sam said it even more clearly: "We're commies!" -unless that wasn't Sam. I do know that Shane wore his commie shirt into a Lowe's a few days before this, and was more or less refused service by some old asshole who worked in the tool department.
Tools were very important to them, because the set -which "changes every forty days" according to Shane- is still sort of in the process of being figured out. The fact that I had a leverage tool (a spud wrench, actually) was of great interest to them.
I soon had a small crowd of orange-clad people around me, as was Wayne, who wore the same suit all day. "What is that?" ran the question, and I pointed out that every working tour should have at least one drift pin, malleck or spud wrench for making holes align in truss.
Especially when said truss is in a giant half-arc with lots of Versatube attached for video. There was lots and lots of little holes, all of which needed aligning.
They had a ton of staging, all orange. Truss, monitors, road boxes, instruments; all of it. Fortunately, lots of things can be bought that are already orange. For everything else, there's spray paint.
This led to an interesting contrast between locals and tour staff: the people in orange, and the people in black.
Not that those of us in black aren't any fun, of course, but one might look at it that way. I had this impression of a rolling circus, and it made me want to join. Later, when we were checking vocals at the beginning of a very long sound check, Wayne was saying something I couldn't quite make out along the lines of "you, your fucking life, and the Flaming Lips..."
For whatever it's worth, my life has changed a lot in the last several years, in ways I never would have envisioned, and most of which I can't quite quantify. There was something odd going on here; music always drives me deep inside my head, but this time even more so.
What all their money seemed to be spent on was a shit ton of confetti, and a whole bunch of large balloons. I've tried to give some sort of scale here (for instance, that dimmer over to the left comes almost up to my chin), and lets just say that this undertaking was a bit more involved than one might think.
It was done with another example of Lips improvisation; the device with which we inflated all those balloons was a leaf blower with the top of a two-liter bottle duct taped to it. I noticed lots of home made fixes like this throughout the day.
These balloons would be thrown by myself and others like me out at the crowd, later that night. I know that I was smiling my everlovin' ass off while doing so.
Ah. More on this later. Publish.
Labels: th' workin' life