The Flaming Lips’ stage show pushes the envelope of outrageousness. Giant blow-up dinosaur outfits. Spaghetti strands of LED lights hanging from the rafters. Wayne Coyne standing up on a cube of lights.
At the Hudson Project festival on Friday though, there was a moment that transcended the spectacle.
With only a few minutes to go in the set, right in the middle of a song, Coyne stopped everything.
He went to the mic and said (to paraphrase) “We’re going to stop for a couple moments. Sometimes all the flashing lights is too much for someone. We’re going to give him a little space and a little love and then we’ll get back to the show.”
Apparently, a guy in the front row was having a seizure. I guess Wayne had seen this a few times before. The lights of a Flaming Lips show can really mess with your senses.
So instead of assuming the guy was on drugs or deserved it, and instead of thinking “the show must go on,” Wayne asked us the entire crowd to just be patient and show concern for a fellow human being.
It went on for a while, maybe 20 minutes. Wayne gave an update a few times, as he watched medics form a circle around the guy. Finally they got him on a stretcher as Wayne watched attentively from the stage. He announced that the guy seemed to be coming back to consciousness and would hopefully be all right.
I learned a lot about Wayne Coyne the person that night. In all his antics, this is clearly a guy who cares about every single one of his fans and will put the well-being of one person ahead of the entertainment of 10,000.
When it was all over, Coyne thanked the crowd for being understanding, and said something along the lines of “This is why we have festivals. To support each other and have each other’s backs.”
There was only half a song left in the set, and it all ended a few minutes later. Some people in the crowd were annoyed. But most knew they’d just seen a great moment of humanity, and a great moment in Rock’ N’ Roll.