As a delicate, dreamy soundscape filled both tiers of a new and extremely packed Birmingham Academy last Tuesday night, a silhouetted dancing girl drenched in phosphorescent hues performed a saucy routine on a massive crescent video screen behind the stage. It looked like she had no clothes on, but silhouettes often give people that impression.
For several minutes she continued to shimmer psychedelically and sashay suggestively before erupting in a dazzling explosion of light. As the audience blinked frantically, trying to disperse an unwelcome chorus line of phosphorescent dots and after-images, this coruscating brilliance seemed to contract and coagulate, transforming itself into a misshapen orb of pulsating energy. This was some otherworldly object that emitted an omnidirectional halo of beatific light, and it seemed to be located in the general vicinity of the dancing silhouette’s unmentionables.
As the audience realised this it let out a cheer, which only seemed to encourage the tie-dyed temptress to up her game and gyrate in even more provocative ways. As she relaxed into a particularly risqué pose, the camera slowly – and, it must be said, shamelessly – zoomed into the pulsating orb of light. As it brought us closer and closer, the music became more harsh and discordant. Eventually, the light filled the entire screen…
What was this supposed to mean? Was the dancing silhouette some lurid reimagining of the Myth of Ishtar? Did the ball of white light represent the svadhisthana chakra and the awakening of the kundalini spirit? Did it have something to do with the Mayan rebirthing ritual? Was it a tribute to Russ Meyer?
Before these questions could be answered, a door opened in the middle of the screen and a bunch of guys from Oklahoma City stepped out. One of them climbed into a giant plastic bubble and proceeded to roll on top of the audience.
There’s nothing quite like a Flaming Lips gig.