Almost Flaming: My 24 Hours Touring from Memphis to New Orleans with The Flaming Lips
The OMA’s had The Flaming Lips drive down the Mississippi on a tour bus — performing in eight different cities from Memphis to New Orleans and breaking Jay-Z’s Guinness World Record for most multiple-city concerts in 24 hours.
Following closely behind was I, riding in the press bus with guys from Paste, Mashable, Spin and LostRemote, a Getty photographer, the Lips’ publicist, as well as PR and production crew which alerted us as to what the hell was going on (when they knew).
Viacom, parent company of MTV, VH1, Logo, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, put the award show together, so a camera crew was permanently embedded inside the Lips’ bus, documenting every single minute of the race (including this press conference where I made a tiny cameo) and streaming it live online.
With the OMA’s, Viacom aimed to recapture MTV’s early days of off-the-cuff interviews, production mayhem and irreverent tactics. Basically what happens when you get a bunch of unscripted, tipsy, twenty-year-olds in front of a camera. So obviously, I was very honored to have been invited to be a part of it. Here are some photos and video of my trip:
Following a quick press conference on the Lips bus, where I asked frontman Wayne Coyne about whether artists use Twitter too seriously or not seriously enough, the Flaming Lips put on a kick-ass, kick-off show in Memphis’ Handy Park.
Confetti guns, giant balloons, they even brought out the crowd-surfing bubble. The Lips finished each of their eight sets with renditions of “Do You Realize??”
Besides the Lips bus, the press bus and the production bus there was a fan bus, chartered independently by Lips fans who bought tickets to all of the eight shows and followed us with their cheery, uplifting spirits all the way down to New Orleans.
Since the live stream had to keep viewers entertained around the clock, even when live shows were not taking place, MTV crew devised several pit stops along the way that would make good b-roll footage. Here, Wayne gets to talk to some super fans while purchasing tons of fireworks.
During the 24-hour tour, the Lips performed mostly songs off their new collaboration album, Heady Fwends. In Clarksdale, Mississippi, they pumped up the crowd with a loud rendition of “2012″ (sans Ke$ha).
Who says the South is homophobic? In Clarksdale, Wayne stepped offstage real quick to take a leak here.
In Oxford, Mississippi, the Lips were joined by Grace Potter. Together they sang two Led Zeppelin songs at the Lyric.
Afterwards we stopped at an abandoned gas station in the middle of nowhere so that Wayne and fwends could set off the fireworks.
Wish I would have had some LSD.
In Jackson, Mississippi, the Flaming Lips performed with Neon Indian. They sang “Is David Bowie Dying??” Wayne then explained that the song meant no disrespect to the Thin White Duke. To prove it, they did a cover of “Heroes.”
Wayne encouraged the audience to be a part of the tour. Live music should be an interactive experience, he said.
On the road, we watched the continuous live-stream from inside the press bus while eating ham sandwiches and drinking 5-hour energies.
Though very early on a Saturday morning, the families of Hattiesburg, Mississippi rose to see The Flaming Lips perform.
The Lips then took the stage overlooking the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi. Phantogram was the special guest this time.
After almost 20 hours on the road, the pool was a nice wake-up call for a lot of the funky super fans.
During the second on-the-bus press conference I talked to Wayne about how he chooses whom to collaborate with. This is the part where I made it on the live-stream!
Finally, the Flaming Lips made it to New Orleans for a record-breaking show at the House of Blues.
BOY TOYS TALK BACK: If you could follow any band on tour for 24 hours for your Almost Famous experience, which band would it be and why?