(Featuring Flaming Lips, Big Star and De La Soul)

May 21, 2006
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA


De La Soul:

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Big Star:

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If there’s ever a reason to have an Athens Reunion, be sure to hire Big Star as the entertainment. Before and during the course of this gig, I ran into more people from Athens than I’ve ever seen in Athens at one time. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Alex Chilton and his boys have been the soundtrack to every hipster venue in town for at least the last decade. Original members Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens were supplemented by Posies principles Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer on bass and rhythm.


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The Athenians I saw were checking off songs from their proverbial (and in at least one occasion literal) wish lists one after the other. Jody Stephens did “Way Out West” and Jon sang Chris Bell’s “I Am The Cosmos” as well as "Back Of A Car". Chilton mesmerized us with “When My Baby’s Beside Me”, “Thirteen”, “Thank You Friends”, “September Gurls”,   “Ballad Of El Goodo” and about every other one that anyone wanted to hear. Each song sent a jolt of recognition and appreciation through the cooler-than-thou crowd. I was surprised at how eager to please the notoriously difficult Alex Chilton turned out to be. When I expressed this to a friend, he casually responded “Maybe he’s got Pixies fever”. Let’s hope that’s the truth. If it is, maybe we’ll get to see Big Star more often.


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The quartet tore through a crowd pleasing set list, launching out of the gate with “In The Street”. Chilton was generous with grins as they tore through “Don’t Lie To Me”. Notably, he smiled even wider at the occasional rusty bits. Other acts (including members of De La Soul and Flaming Lips) watched from the wings of stage right. On the other side, a VIP area (for those lucky enough to score a wristband or pass) was glutted with every music loving writer in the area. Creative Loafing, Stomp & Stammer and Flagpole stood along with others who had traveled in from across the South especially for Big Star.

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Flaming Lips:

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I’ll admit to ambivalence over a corporate sponsored show such as the Southern Comfort Music Experience. Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist going out for the free show at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic park. Not the least of the reasons being that it was headlined by the Flaming Lips. The show started like most of the Lips major outdoor appearances over the past couple of years; with front man Wayne Coyne rolling out over the crowd in a giant hamster ball. The audience knocked him off his feet several times but he always came back up smiling. When the bubble landed onstage, everything went crazy. The other Lips kicked into “Race For The Prize”, Wayne started swinging a light, confetti and streamers began flying and dozens of Santas and aliens waved flood lights from the wings. Talk about sensory overload! It was a madhouse and the best time I’ve had at a concert in years. I couldn’t help but think that there was no way they could keep up that energy. I mean, how do you follow that?

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It all crystallized during “Do You Realize?”, when the crowd became one entity connected by a simple melody and timeless emotions. That’s what it’s all about. The one encore was a cover of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" that was dedicated to all of the young people from the Atlanta area that would have been at this free show if they weren’t fighting a war in Iraq. Behind the band footage of Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell and Cheney loomed on the big screen. At the beginning, Wayne urged the crowd to sing along. He said something to the effect of "It won't change anything but it'll make us feel better right now." And it did. The Flaming Lips never cease to make me feel great. The world needs 'em and you just might, too...even if you don't know it.

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Flaming Lips Set List (Click the underlined songs to see fan shot vids from this gig at You Tube.)

1. Ta Da!
2. Race For The Prize
3. Bohemian Rhapsody (2nd clip - longer)
4. Free Radicals (2nd clip)
Yoshimi Intro Sing-Along
5. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1
6. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 2 (2nd clip)
7. Vein Of Stars
8. Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
9. In The Morning Of The Magicians
10. The W.A.N.D.
11. She Don't Use Jelly
12. Do You Realize?
13. War Pigs


All photos and reviews by Chris McKay /



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Well, they did it with a note-for-note run through of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" that had the crowd singing along. There’s no other way to say it than “it was amazing”. Queen never even performed the operatic part live, they used tapes. The Lips did it all with aplomb that more than made up for any lost high notes. All night, the songs were chosen for impact and balance. “Free Radicals” squirmed and squawked like children dodging falling anvils. “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” lifted spirits and got those children back in touch with themselves. “Vein Of Stars” was akin to wading in the ocean at night while watching the backdrop slowly merge into the Atlanta skyline.

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