Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I apologize for the caps and exclamation points, but it was just one of those nights that truly deserved them. So way back in the beginning of November I saw that The Flaming Lips and Wilco would be playing a show together on New Year's Eve in NYC. Without anyone to go with or any sort of a plan, I decided to buy two tickets and worry about the little details later. Two months later a plan was in place that involved my friend Kam coming out to DC to visit then later heading up to New York for New Year's Eve. Hotels in the city were a bit too expensive, so we ended up getting a cheap one in Princeton, NJ (which happened to be quite close to the train station). We got to the city around 5 and had a little pre-concert drinking and pizza at Becky's friend's place, then headed down to MSG around 7. The place was empty when we got there, and it looked like all the pre-show warnings about long security lines were false because we were in our seats by 7:20. Fortunately enough, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips entertained us by shooting streamers into the seats and taking pictures with fans (sadly, I didn't get one).
After about 40 minutes, Sleater-Kinney (a band that I'm not too familiar with) took the stage and played mostly (if not all) stuff from their upcoming album. I'd seen them before opening for Pearl Jam and didn't pay much attention, but they fucking rocked it this time around. They played without a bass player, just two guitars and a drummer, and the back-and-forth vocals by the two singers was awesome. Their voices are so different and create the perfect contrast. I was completely blown away and I'll be one of the first in line for their new album when it's released this spring.
About 15 minutes after Sleater-Kinney left the stage, it looked like the Flaming Lips were about ready to take the stage, and then the party really got started. Wayne Coyne and the band led the procession of people dressed in animal costumes, inflatable suns and strippers into position to prepare for what would be one of the biggest on-stage parties I've ever seen. As they played the intro music and the short film told us to prepare for the greatest night of our lives, I was literally shaking with excitement. And finally, the launched into "Race for the Prize" and everyone in Madison Square Garden went crazy. Hundreds of baloons were thrown into the crowd, everyone on stage was dancing, Wayne was swinging lights around and throwing confetti, crazy videos played behind the band and I couldn't stop smiling. The show continued on with singalongs to "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1" and "She Don't Use Jelly," Wayne wearing a strobe light during "Lightning Strikes the Postman" and donning some giant gloves during "The Gash," and even some political talk. By the end, my voice was almost gone and I was out of energy after dancing for the entire set, but I was determined to bounce back for Wilco.
I was really wondering how Wilco would match the energy of the Flaming Lips, but knowing how amazing they are live, I wasn't really worried. Jeff Tweedy came out onto the stage dressed in blue pajamas and the band kicked into the rockin' opener "Less Than You Think?" I think it was a joke, playing one of their softest songs following such a high energy set. In the middle of the song, I noticed that they had an extra guitarist on stage with them, and it was none other than producer/indie rock god Jim O'Rourke. They then launched immediately into "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" and the energy was maintained from there on out for the next two hours. Just before midnight, members of the other bands came out onto the stage as we did the old countdown, then they all sang "Auld Lang Syne" and "Happy Birthday" to Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche. Then the party really started. Tweedy, O' Rourke and bassist John Stirratt traded vocals back and forth through a series of cover songs, and the band seemed to be having as much fun up there was I was having in the crowd. They kicked back into the Wilco songs with the rarely-played "Heavy Metal Drummer" and closed the regular set with "I'm A Wheel," windmill guitars and all. The encore opened with Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips and the drummer from Sleater-Kinney armed with cowbells, and the band jumped into an amazing cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) the Reaper." The show closed with another cover song that I wasn't familiar with, "Comment (If All Men Are Truly Brothers)" which had the crowd swaying back and forth. They left with the audience begging for more, but there was no such luck. It was an amazing night and definitely the best way anyone could ever spend a New Year's Eve.

Flaming Lips setlist:
Race for the Prize
Fight Test
The Gash
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
War Pigs
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 2
Lightning Strikes the Postman
In the Morning of Magicians
She Don’t Use Jelly
Do You Realize?

Wilco setlist:
Less Than You Think
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Handshake Drugs
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
A Shot in the Arm
At Least That’s What You Said
Jesus Etc.
Poor Places
Auld Lang Syne (with all the bands)
Happy Birthday (to Glenn Kotche)
Livin’ After Midnight (Judas Priest cover)
Love Will Keep Us Together (Captain & Tennille cover)
Political Science (Randy Newman cover)
I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan cover)
Something in the Air (Thunderclap Newman cover)
Heavy Metal Drummer
I’m The Man Who Loves You
The Late Greats
I’m A Wheel
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult cover)
Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mommy (Devo cover)
Comment (If All Men Are Truly Brothers) (Charles Wright cover)


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