I don’t always, or even often, agree with Jim DeRogatis, but I have to say that I agree 100 percent with the way he called out Wayne Coyne for the decision to have the Flaming Lips play a regular set to close out this year’s Pitchfork fest, rather than doing a “Write the Night” set as was previously announced.
The acts participating in “Write the Night”–Tortoise, the Jesus Lizard, Built to Spill, and Yo La Tengo–will be playing songs selected by Internet voters, a process likely to result in the resuscitation of fan favorites that’ve dropped out of the bands’ regular sets for one reason or another.
Says DeRo: “You guys have been playing more or less the same set for almost a decade now; a few new songs get added, one older song gets dropped in per night, and maybe a cover, but mostly we get a lot of eye candy, with very few if any real musical surprises.” A little further on he asks if Coyne’s “afraid to deviate from the standard set list, stretch out as in the old days, and either succeed brilliantly or fail nobly?”
And that’s exactly my beef with this situation, and with the band in general. The Flaming Lips used to be a bizarre and fearless band that wasn’t afraid to fail nobly, or in any other fashion. Even their breakthrough album, The Soft Bulletin, was a ballsy experiment, despite its unaggressive vibe–Coyne and his group were ditching a significant amount of the formula that had brought them what success they’d had. It’s a move I respected them for, even though I hated the record and have hated everything they’ve released since.
Now it seems they’re nothing but formula. I appreciate the fact that it’s a formula that brings a good number of people joy, but if their set at Pitchfork is going to be the same shtick they’ve been pumping out basically unchanged for the past few years, I think I might have a good reason to knock off early on Sunday. It’s likely I won’t be the only one.