"This was one of the weirdest things we've ever done," Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne announced during his band's headlining set at the Scene Music Awards last Thursday. For a band whose albums are populated by priest-driven ambulances and pink robots -- and which took to the stage backed by dancing owls and a shimmying Santa Claus -- that was saying something.
But as odd as this ball was, the event's informal nature made it about as much fun as an awards show can be without Ol' Dirty Bastard in the house. The night began with a sweaty set from the Vacancies, who provided an early jolt of electricity via their caffeinated punk. Guitarist Michael James quaked and quivered as if he were strumming a downed power line, frontman Billy Crooked bared both his chest and his knuckles, and the rhythm section of Kari Krash and Watti Banks duked it out like a pair of prizefighters.
Jaded Era followed with buoyant pop rock as grin-inducing as the 20-ounce beers that kept going down all too quickly. Infectious and energetic, Jaded Era brought unsinkable harmonies and enough bounding about the stage to approximate a Tae Bo workout.
Flanked by a pair of buxom belly dancers, Cobra Verde rounded out the locals with verve and wit. With Coyne and Lips drummer Steven Drozd watching from the wings, CV's debonair rock was a blend of fire and finesse, highlighted by the set-ending stomper, "Modified Frankenstein." Between sets, a pink-haired DJ Larry Symz handed out awards, cracking jokes and maintaining the loose vibe, which the Lips built upon exponentially.
Taking the stage surrounded by giant inflatable obelisks, a gaggle of giddy dancers in animal suits, and a towering projection screen that displayed everything from praying mantis battles to naked ladies, the Lips dazzled from the get-go. Propelled by Coyne's helium-abetted vocals and the lighthearted psychedelia, the Lips' set was both playful and, at times, strangely moving. Opening with The Soft Bulletin's "Race for the Prize," the band stuck mostly to latter-day albums like 2002's bent, beatific Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots before ending with an extraterrestrial take on Pink Floyd's "Breathe." Then the lights came on, revealing the Lips to be all smiles. Just like the audience.
·Weeks after parting ways with Judas Priest, Tim "Ripper" Owens has resurfaced with Florida power-metal favorites Iced Earth. Owens recently laid down vocals for the band's forthcoming seventh studio LP, The Glorious Burden. "The album is done, and it's not just done, it rules!" Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer posted on his band's website. "I have never been more pleased in all my years of recording. It came out the way it was supposed to be!"
The band has made sound clips of three new cuts ("The Reckoning," "Hollow Man," and "Red Baron/Blue Max") available at www.icedearth.com.
"I can honestly tell you, I've never felt better and am truly looking to the future with more optimism than ever before," Schaffer gushes.
The Glorious Burden is due out this fall on SPV/Steamhammer records.