I've had an upset stomach since Election Day. Most of you probably have as well. And, aside from nausea and a loss of appetite (especially for flaky, orange foods), one side effect of the 2016 election has been a reluctance to have fun. With every cabinet appointment or moronic Tweet from our new leader seeming to indicate a coming apocalypse, it seems trivial to do anything but protest, call congressmen, and boycott $10,000 Ivanka Trump bracelets as seen on 60 Minutes. But, when it came time to go see the Flaming Lips this past weekend, I took a hint from history. If in the '60s, people could take time away from sit-ins and civil-rights marches for acid, free love, and Woodstock, surely I could take Trump off my mind for one glorious evening.
The Flaming Lips were the main draw for day two of the inaugural House of Creatives Music Festival, but they certainly weren't the only attraction. The first-year fest raised eyebrows with its choice of venue — the North Beach Bandshell — but the space, which extended behind the venue into Bandshell Park, turned out to be incredibly walkable and very spacious. The North Beach Bandshell was where local and lesser-known acts played, while the beach stage was reserved for the big kids. In between the two stages was a grassy path with vendors selling clothes, skateboards, popsicles, alcohol, and all kinds of delicious bites.
Performers wandered the crowd during sets. See more photos from House of Creatives here.
Photo by Ian Witlen
Saturday night's headlining sets started with Crystal Castles, who took the beach stage at 8 p.m. The Canadian act's nonstop strobe lights and industrial punk turned the coastline into a warehouse party. Edith Frances, who replaced former lead singer Alice Glass last year, screamed through black lipstick into the microphone like a dystopian anime character. A live drummer kept the beat with enough force to drown out any crashing waves in the distance.
It took a half-hour after Crystal Castles wrapped up its set for the crew to assemble the Flaming Lips' art installation. Hundreds of ropes hung from the temporary stage's rafters when singer Wayne Coyne took the stage in sequined pants and a fluffy fur coat. "It's the perfect night to be outside playing music," he declared before informing the crowd that they could find him at the Electric Pickle after the show.
Wayne Coyne dances with his inflatable friends.
Photo by Ian Witlen
The band launched into "Race for the Prize" as the fireworks began. Well — not technically fireworks, but a visual explosion that was just as interesting. It was smoke machines and confetti and technicolor rainbows pulsating on the screen as the band worked through its psychedelic symphonies. The 12-song set was heavy on tracks from the Lips' two turn-of-the-century masterpieces, The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It was also heavy on special effects.
Giant inflatable frogs and catfish danced on the stage, a ten-foot-tall balloon that read "FUCK YEAH MIAMI" was passed around the crowd, and sparks of electricity seemed to bolt upward on the ropes dangling from the stage. For a couple of songs, Coyne wore a jacket made of pulsing neon lights that, while restricting his movement by 98 percent, was undeniably trippy. The most thrilling part of the show happened during a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," when Coyne rolled onstage entrapped in a plastic bubble, not unlike a hamster. Halfway through the song, Coyne ran the bubble off the stage, letting the crowd carry him toward a platform in the middle of the audience as he sang, "Planet Earth is blue/And there's nothing I can do."
There was no shortage of props at the Lips' set.
Photo by Ian Witlen
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He eventually rolled back onto the stage and shared a few thoughts on the awesomeness of David Bowie. The show reached its crashing conclusion with "Do You Realize??" and the mid-size crowd — in what had to be one of the easiest festival exits, like, ever — left the sand and poured out onto A1A. House of Creatives' first year was a smooth and seamless introduction to Miami, and the event has earned its right to return to the beach next year, which we sincerely hope it does.
And hopefully, more out-of-towners will follow the example that House of Creatives and Mishu set this past weekend. Bring Miami more music, and we'll happily listen.