In a way, Wayne Coyne looks at every Flaming Lips concert as a chance to throw a New Year’s Eve party each time the group hits the stage.
In fact, the singer/guitarist/on-stage ringmaster looks back to the group’s New Year’s Eve shows as providing much of the inspiration behind turning a typical Flaming Lips concert into one of the great spectacles for the eyes and ears of any touring rock show on the scene today.
On any given night, the Flaming Lips roll out all manner of party favors – batting balloons and shooting confetti out to the audience – and have stagehands and invited guests dress up in costume to cheerlead crowds through the songs.
In one of the most famous stunts, Coyne has frequently made his arrival to the stage inside a clear plastic bubble that he rolls along like some giant hamster running its wheel.
The Flaming Lips perform at the Wichita River Festival at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We started to do these New Year’s Eve shows, I think it was around the year 2000 or something,” Coyne said in a recent phone interview, recalling how the Flaming Lips began building the carnival-esque stage show. “I think every year that we were doing those, we would sort of do what we were doing the year before, only more. So the balloons would get bigger and there would be more confetti and more stuff.
“And then we would just do that in our (regular) show, so every show would look like this giant New Year’s Eve celebration – which it should,” he said.
This spring, the Flaming Lips have new songs to play – courtesy of the new studio album, “Ocsy Mlody” – and some new on-stage stunts in store for audiences.
One rather prominent moment involves a unicorn.
“Well, we have this song that says there should be unicorns (it’s called – yes – “There Should Be Unicorns”), and we really like the track. It’s got a really great vibe for it,” Coyne said. “I’m always thinking what can I do while the song is playing, and that just seemed like such an obvious thing.”
They ordered it off Amazon.
”I got it in enough time to put the big LED displays and all that stuff (on it), and it just really worked out, and we found a way to make the dollies they can push me around on and all that. And the fact that it (the unicorn) is this bizarre plastic thing is even better.”
“So I think all of that probably would only work in the absurd Flaming Lips world and be entertaining to an audience,” he said. “I think in that way the Flaming Lips audience has come to kind of want that.”
Of course, to make the visuals work, the Flaming Lips need to deliver on a musical level. And the group, which formed in 1983 in Oklahoma City, has evolved its music into a trippy and whimsical, multilayered psychedelic pop/rock sound that fits the absurdist visual vibe of the stage show.
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Kennedy Plaza Stage, north side of Century II, 225 W. Douglas
Opening acts: Music begins at 3 p.m. with Sloan Moon.
How much: Included in the price of a Riverfest button. Buttons are $10 for adults and $5 for children, ages 6-12. Buttons available at the gate.