Flaming Lips Update

Courtesy: Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times
Word is the Flaming Lips will return to their whacked-out psychedelic experimentations with the release of this week’s “Embryonic,” and Los Angeles-area fans will get the first shot at hearing much of the album translated to a live audience. The Lips will appear Thursday night at Hollywood’s Ricardo Montalbán Theatre near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

But getting in won’t be easy. It’s a free gig sponsored by MySpace, and tickets will be made at the theater on a first-come, first-serve basis Thursday. The venue will also hold a Lips pop-up store, which promises “unique artifacts” (read: fur-encased CDs) for sale. The store is open from noon to midnight, and fans who score tickets will need to be in the venue by 7:30 p.m.

A press release teases that it will be the Flaming Lips’ last show until 2010. Here’s hoping the band is retooling its live show to match “Embryonic,” moving away from the goofy-cute — yet, admittedly, awesome — live celebration that has become the norm, and bringing back a hint of edginess (the “headphone concerts” of “The Soft Bulletin” era, for example).

Those who can’t make it to the venue Thursday should hit Amoeba on CD release day (Tuesday). “Embryonic” purchasers will be granted one ticket per album purchased, with a limit of two per customer, according to an Amoeba rep. A store employee said she didn’t know exactly how many tickets the store would have, but they would be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Get to Amoeba early, as the Montalbán doesn’t hold much more than 1,000 people. The store opens at 10:30 a.m., for those taking a personal day to celebrate a new Flaming Lips album. There will also be ticket giveaways via LA Weekly and local non-profit KCRW-FM (89.9).

More information is available on the Lips’ website.

If you prefer to take in the Lips’ confetti-soaked, animal-costume madness via your couch, the band will perform on “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” on Wednesday. This writer, free from the obligations of reviewing the album (insert sad face emoticon here), has avoided all aural spoilers, but Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote in his review that “The Lips of ‘Embryonic’ will appeal to the hardcore faithful who miss the band’s crackpot psychedelia, the band that reveled in the chaos of ‘One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning’ and other moments of glorious mid-’80s indulgence.”

The Thursday night gig will mark a return for the Lips to the Montalbán. The band screened its art-house holiday flick “Christmas on Mars” at the venue last year. I spoke with Lips ringleader Wayne Coyne at the time, and he expressed an interest to severely play with fans’ expectations with the new album, the act’s last due to Warner Bros.

“As bands get older, they get into one groove, and that’s the way they sound for 20 years,” Coyne said last fall. “We never really wanted to be like that. We just keep finding new things we want to explore. So we’ll just go in there and experiment around.”

“Even Radiohead,” continues Coyne, “as much as I like their last three or four records, I feel as though there’s a coloring and a shade that they sound like, and which they’ll probably move through time sounding like. I wish, sometimes, that we were as focused and grounded and identified like they are … But we’re just dorks. We’re the Flaming Lips. We’re never going to be Radiohead.”

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