The Flaming Lips may have just held the defining concert of the social distancing era.
The rock band played a concert with fans in individual space bubbles at The Criterion in Oklahoma City on Oct. 19. The group played songs from their latest LP, “American Head.” Each concertgoer, as well as the band members, were encased in a life-sized plastic bubble where they could head-bang and scream as loud as they like.
“We do a couple of songs with about 30 people in the bubbles. And we start to think, ‘Well, you know, just from doing that, we start to get an idea that we could actually do it, you know, and it could actually happen,'” Coyne told CNN about plans to host a larger concert.
Coyne has used the space bubbles since 2006 to greet people at an annual Halloween parade. But during the pandemic, The Flaming Lips decided to share the protective gear with fans and ordered 100 of the inflatables.
“We want this to be safe and a great experience,” Coyne told Jambase before the concert. “Those are the things the venue is allowing us to set up so we can start to figure out how it will work. The part about playing in the bubble, we already have down. It’s how we get the crowd in and out without cross-contamination that we need to figure out, but they’re giving us a few weeks in this venue to figure it out.”
While it is still unclear how the band worked out the details, Coyne did say he enjoyed the experience after the fact.
“I like the way this looks because you can get as excited as you want, you can scream as much as you want, you just can’t infect the person next to you, no matter what you forget about, how excited you get,” Coyne told CNN. “That barrier is still there, they’re protected and you’re protected … that part of it is what we really felt like was the success.”
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