The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka Listening Party - The Echo - 1/31/13
At 11:28 things got underway. True to Zaireeka form, the sync was off. "Aaaand it's already out of sync," bitterly complained some pedantic asshole. The whole process requires that the each CD be synced perfectly, but that's nearly impossible and having sync gaps is part of the charm.
But, as projectors flashed Dr. Seuss's The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T on one wall and Coyne's own film Christmas on Mars on another and the second track started, the sync was damn-near perfect.
People were packed together in the middle of the Echo floor like huddling happy-feet penguins. Others were pacing around the fringe looking for a new aural sweet spot. The pacers looked like meditating monks, heads hung low and moving slowly.
Truth is -- Barker was doing a superb syncing job. In fact, when track four, "A Machine in India" came up, the song's horns seem to sync with the Seuss movie's marching band.
Song six, "How Will We Know" was preceded by Barker yelling, "This song is dangerous!" She's right, and those attendees aware of the spine-melting high-pitched tone moved into some sonic safe places. Everyone else plugged their ears. In fact, tracks six and seven are basically alarm clocks to remind you to stay engaged with the album. Zaireeka is not really a vibe-out experience, it's an active puzzle, a sound-based 3-D moving platform game.
By the eighth and final track, "The Big Ol' Bug Is the New Baby Now" had everyone standing. Arms went up for the final choruses and then dogs started barking. Woah. The end.
All told, the album is best experienced exactly like it was last night: with a bunch of earnest fans, outstanding sound techs and an enthusiastic Z-jay. A life-affirming Wayne Coyne wouldn't have wanted it any other way, unless he was doing it himself while tripping balls on Venus.
Personal bias: The first Zaireeka listening party I went to in 1999 was followed by necking and heavy petting. It's hard to top that.
The crowd: Serious sonic freaks and audio geeks and self-medicated psychonauts.
Random notebook dump: "Oh man, that dude is just vibed the fuck out. If that dude was an ice cream flavor, he'd be Pralines and Vibe. If he were a president he'd be Viberaham Lincoln. NB: don't put this in the piece, it's not funny."
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