It has been a good run for The Gathering, with the concert promoter hosting three back-to-back concerts within a span of two weeks. First off, we had radio-friendly indie pop starlets Chvrches, followed by bumbling comedy-duo Tenacious D; and to wrap it all up, we had the psychedelic answer that was Jagwar Ma and The Flaming Lips.
Decked top to bottom with party streamers, the stage alone was an indication that a party was about to ensue. Electronic trio Jagwar Ma appeared onstage shortly after 8.30pm, and opened with bass-heavy “What Love”. Jagwar Ma was like a warped version of Nirvana – with knob-twiddler Jono Ma providing the beats and unmistakable energy of the band, Jack Freeman bouncing on stage like a certain loveable bassist, and frontman Gabriel Winterfield spewing his gnarled, warped vocals over the psychedelic discord.
Jagwar Ma laid their trademark laidback Australian charm, and apologized for the Laneway Festival fiasco that happened earlier this year. The band made up for their previous shortcoming with an earth-splitting rendition of “Come and Save Me”, drawing huge cheers from the crowd.
The Sydney trio soon made way for the highlight of the night – The Flaming lips. The Oklahoma natives preserved the best part of the spectacle for the opening, launching into a near 15-minute opener of pyrotechnics, confetti, and providing an onslaught of various cartoon mascots. The band eased into crowd-pleasers “Yoshimi”, “She don’t use jelly”, and “Race for the Prize”, leaving revelers to soak up in nostalgia.
The Lips surprised at every turn, brandishing different mascots for every song. Cue “Abandoned Hospital Ship” – It was a giant sun and purple butterfly. Cue “Morning of the Magicians” – A santa claus and a Giant helium lizard (Yes, you heard it). Theatrics was an obvious strong point of the band, and frontman Wayne Coyne was the conductor of it all.
During “W.A.N.D”, Coyne crawled into his signature spaceball, and proceeded to saunter over the crowd with uneasy precision. Sprawled in the centre of the crowd, Coyne allowed the audience to bask in his world of bizarreness, leaving guitarist Steven Drozd to lead the troupe from the stage opposite. After the intermission, the band proceeded to wrap up with soulful renditions of “Do You Realize” and the evergreen Beatles classic “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.
By the end of the show, the audience covered in a massive field of gold. The show ran past slightly before midnight, but provided everyone the intense experience that went unparalleled to any other gig that we’ve ever been to. The Flaming Lips, together with Jagwar Ma, presented what was definitively, one of the best gigs of 2014. Way to go, Q magazine.
Photo Credit to Dominic Phua, Forefront Asia