Flaming Lips rolled its fans right into the future of concerts as it staged the world’s first “space bubble” concert in the United States last weekend.
The American rock band ran the two-night show safe from the transmission of COVID-19 by having their audience—and the band members themselves—sheltered in their own inflatable balls.
Held in Oklahoma City’s Criterion theater, fans watched the band’s performance from 100 “space bubbles” that could fit a maximum of three people each.
The unique concept was initiated by frontman Wayne Coyne, who often rolls over their concert’s audience inside a Zorb ball.
In an interview with Rolling Stones in December last year, Coyne said that fans would have to wait in line before they are brought inside their plastic bubbles. “We collect everybody and then we take them row by row to their bubbles,” Coyne said.
The band did a test run of the concept in a smaller concert in October that year. Coyne detailed, “[In October], the whole thing happened in 20 minutes from everybody being inside to everyone being blown up in their space bubble, and that’s the part of it that we wanted to work on. Once you’re in the bubble you can do whatever the fuck you want, and that’s the beauty of it. That’s what we spent most of the time figuring out. The music part of it, we got that shit down.”
And the band obviously made good of their plan as each bubble in this year’s concert also came with a frequency supplemental speaker, water bottle, battery-operated fan, towel, and an "I gotta go pee/hot in here" sign. Fans can also take off their face masks once they’re inside the cocoon.
Coyne said that the bubbles hold enough oxygen for three people to breathe for “over an hour and 10 minutes” before they need to be refreshed with cool air, which fans could request from attendants by raising up the “hot in here” sign.
When they need to take a bathroom break, fans simply had to raise the “I gotta go pee” sign and a venue staff will escort them after they have worn their face mask and stepped outside the bubble.
According to the instructional video that Coyne posted on his Instagram feed, the concert ends with everyone rolling their own space bubbles to the exit door where they must wear their masks before getting out.
"Safety, safety, safety," Coyne wrote on the caption. "But fun too!”
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Flaming Lips’ concert was initially slated for December last year, but the band had to backtrack due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.
“I don’t want anybody to think this is some kind of fucking freak party,” Coyne told Rolling Stones. “It’s a very restricted, weird event. But the weirdness is so we can enjoy a concert before putting our families and everybody at risk.”