The Flaming Lips’ live shows have long been synonymous with giant bubbles, but the coronavirus has forced them to take things to the next level. Instead of just frontman Wayne Coyne rolling around in a giant, inflatable hamster ball, they’ve lately been putting a bubble around every member of the band — and the audience. They did it on Fallon, they did it on Colbert, and now they’re trying to do it in an actual music venue.
As Coyne explained to BrooklynVegan, a concept that began as a funny bit of merch has grown into a very real possibility. “We’re starting to get ready to do an actual show where yeah, there’s three people in each of these space bubbles, and we play,” said the frontman. “We think maybe playing two shows a night, and getting a big audience in there each time.”
The plan would be to hold the bubble show in The Flaming Lips’ Oklahoma City hometown. As a number of Instagram posts reveal, the band is already well on their way to working out the logistics at an undisclosed venue. “The place that we’re at at the moment, it holds almost 4,000 people, but it only holds a hundred space bubbles,” Wayne told BV. “So it’s a lot of space in there.”
Coyne added that his years of experience with the space bubbles makes him confident people could spend an entire concert inside one: “It holds a lot of air. I mean, you can be in there for quite a while. I just don’t think people quite realize what it is as a mechanism. But we’ve just messed with them for so long, we kind of know that it can all work and how it can work and all that.”
Of course, the Flaming Lips don’t want to turn their first concerts behind their new album, American Head, into a Smash Mouth-level super spread event. That means there are still some issues to work out logistically, specifically in regards to how to actually get attendees safely into their bubbles. “The part about playing in the bubble, we already have down,” Coyne told JamBase. “It’s how we get the crowd in and out without cross-contamination that we need to figure out, but they’re giving us a few weeks in this venue to figure it out.”
Check out some of the behind-the-scenes images Coyne has shared of the trials, followed by a small sample of what a Flaming Lips bubble show might look like via the band’s Colbert performance of “Race For the Prize”.