The Flaming Lips | U.F.O.s at the Zoo (WEA/Reprise)

dvd_flaminglips.jpgFor all the appreciation their multitudes of fans have shown the Lips, they return it here in waves via all the extras included in the DVD menu.






After checking out their first live (and long awaited) DVD release, U.F.O.s at the Zoo, I can see why Oklahoma City loves the Flaming Lips so much: They put on one hell of a concert for their hometown fans! I felt caught in the crosswinds of mutual adoration flowing between the band and their original, most loyal fan base. This DVD struck me as a true portrait of what they attempt to share with their audiences, as if they set out to produce the ultimate gift for their fans. I think this instant cult-classic DVD may just uncover new legions of Flaming Lips devotees.

Filled with intelligent and inspiring tunes, their set list serves as the perfect complement to their astounding visual show. This unique concert footage will be prized by the diehard fanatic, as well as the curious listener looking for a sampler of the Lips’ repertoire. The band delivers songs from their beginnings in the early ’80s through to their most recent (and Grammy award-winning) album, At War With the Mystics; a span of more than 20 years. Moreover, they decided to host it at the Zoo Amphitheater inside the Oklahoma City Zoo, where icons the likes of Frank Zappa and The Grateful Dead have also played. A fitting atmosphere for a once underground-Midwestern band of weirdos turned international superstars.

For all the appreciation their multitudes of fans have shown the Lips, they return it here in waves via all the extras included in the DVD menu. In addition to being able to hear only the music from the concert if you desire (sans the extra commentary footage), you can also download MP3s of all the live tracks. After that, choose from several other options, like a PDF version of the paper booklet that comes tucked inside the striking looking case. Or create your own ring tone from a selection of ten songs. Not enough customer appreciation for ya? How about the "nu-myx" section which allows you to make your own personal remix of "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," or maybe the ten different images from the concert offered as wallpapers, or maybe a buddy icon?

Inside the booklet, Wayne Coyne, singer of the Flaming Lips, describes his personal concept of the amazing rapport they’ve developed with their followers, explaining how he sees their fans as a cosmic phenomenon, a new kind of Aurora Borealis. Not only an amazing spectacle for their wonder, but as a connected, living, breathing "gargantuan wave of pulsating particles" that have a shine which comes from their spirit as a whole. This band loves to interact with their audience, and everyone in attendance or watching the DVD can sense this connection. The bands feeds off the enthusiasm in their audience and sends it right back at them in a constant exchange of good vibes – both figurative and literal vibrations, considering the overwhelming energy and all-consuming resonance of their live set. Incredibly, this listener-responsive dynamic is palpable while viewing the DVD.

All of this appreciation did come at a cost, however. The technical tweaking of the DVD menus and overall function, which make it amazing, also put it behind its originally scheduled release. Though it’s been a long time coming, all their effort has proven very much worth the wait. The film and artwork are visually compelling and the music aurally fascinating. The Flaming Lips have made their first (official) live DVD release a very interactive experience for their fans, in keeping with the mood of all their live performances, allowing those who have never had the opportunity to enjoy their live show a relatively life-like experience, just as we’ve come to expect from the underground band of the century.

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of U.F.O.s at the Zoo. Do it for a look at all the visual brainstorming that went into it, and for all of the intriguing concepts of fan-to band relationships revealed within. Do it because it’s an awesome collection of their songs from the beginning to the present. But mostly, do it to be included in the cosmic phenomenon that is the Flaming Lips. | Keith Mangles

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