When The Flaming Lips released The Dark Side of the Moon in late December -- reinterpreting the Pink Floyd classic with Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Peaches and Henry Rollins -- it was a reminder of the band's own transcendent album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. In 2002, the album was a revelation, one that touched, often powerfully, even the most mainstream listeners.
You heard it -- and about it -- everywhere. Your music-snob friends had it. You heard it in bars. Your boss at your soul-sucking day job had it (well, mine did, anyway). Yoshimi concerned empathy, much like Dark Side does -- something about isolation and communication and mortality and we might as well talk now before it's too late. Floating through space together and drugs.
Seeing the Flaming Lips on that tour, at an outdoor city pavilion on a summer night, made me feel like a little kid -- a show both playful and meaningful, music both hypnotic and virtuosic. (And the Lips conjured this experience in, of all places, downtown Cleveland.) Not bad for a bunch of weirdos then 20 years into their career.
Since then, the Lips have become ever more isngrained in popular culture -- and public life. Along with the albums At War With the Mystics and last year's Embryonic and Dark Side, there's the soundtrack work, commercials and ever more brain-melting live show. "Do You Realize??" from Yoshimi, is now the official state rock song of Oklahoma.
But as the band visits for its first Pittsburgh show in nearly a decade, it's hard to think of a better chance to reconnect with your inner child -- and fellow humanoids -- than an outdoor pavilion on a summer night with The Flaming Lips. As their psychedelic precursors sang, "Breathe, breathe in the air / don't be afraid to care."
The Flaming Lips with Fang Island. 7:30 p.m. Tue., July 20 (doors at 6:30 p.m.). Trib Total Media Amphitheatre, One Station Square West Lot, Station Square. All ages. $32.50 ($35 day of show). 412-642-1100 or www.tribtotalmediaamp.com