The Flaming Lips are doing concerts with attendees in clear inflatable bubbles


The band The Flaming Lips is trying to reach out to fans during this time of quarantine, but in the safest way possible. Their answer? Live concerts with individual Space Bubbles. The idea is actually a recycled one. Lead singer Wayne Coyne began using these custom plastic bubbles to launch himself into the audience to crowd surf. After COVID hit, he started drawing concept art of the space bubbles protecting his band and fans in concert. So when the band was scheduled to appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, they gave the bubbles a test drive. Somehow measuring their appearance on Colbert a success, they went ahead and scheduled two whole concerts in Oklahoma where they’re from. The photos (below) look like something out of a Sci Fi movie.

In an age where it seems impossible to safely hold a crowded concert, the Flaming Lips found a way to do so in their home state of Oklahoma. The band put on two shows where attendees — and musicians — stood inside “space bubbles” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The band ordered space bubbles from China for an October show at the Criterion theater in Oklahoma City. The first floor of the venue was filled with around 300 fans in enclosed in plastic bubble barriers.

The plastic pods keep fans at a safe distance, and Coyne emphasized that each bubble is cleaned out with about 20 ounces of 70% isopropyl alcohol, hit with a leaf blower until the liquid is evaporated, and then scrubbed down by a person in a full painter’s suit and mask. The cleaning process is extensive after each show.

The bubbles hold enough oxygen for three people to breathe for “over an hour and 10 minutes” before they need to be refreshed with a leaf blower, Coyne said, according to BBC News. Each bubble has a speaker inside, so the band’s sound wasn’t muffled, as well as a fan, water and a towel to wipe down condensation. If fans needed to leave their bubble, they had an “I gotta go pee/hot in here” sign and a venue staff member would escort them to the bathroom while wearing masks.

Since clapping inside the bubbles sounded muted, people instead applauded by “punching the top of their bubble,” Poppe said.

The fans left the venue by rolling their bubbles to the exit, then putting on masks and unzipping their plastic globe to leave the venue.

[From CBS News]

I couldn’t do this due to my claustrophobia. I’m having a little trouble looking at those people in the bubbles. I know they’re clear and they have openings, but being in something that small would wreak havoc on my mind. But obviously, this wasn’t intended for someone like me who barely goes to concerts anyway (especially because my claustrophobia can also be triggered in crowds). I do want to give The Flaming Lips credit for their efforts because I think they had the best intentions. Their motivation is to provide live entertainment. It sounds like this was all considered and executed judiciously and seriously. That said, would this scratch your concert itch:

I am not overly familiar with The Flaming Lips but if Coyne is stage diving on the reg, I would imagine this is a bit subdued. Plus that bubble almost demands you pull some serious Dad dance moves. But, maybe this is all the folks in attendance wanted, just the chance to stand among other people, listening to music played live. Adjustments have to be made, so if this works, then all power to the innovators.

However, the more important question is – was it safe enough? It certainly sounds thorough, with 70% isopropyl alcohol and full painter suit scrub downs. But the article also discussed a lot of fans and leaf blowers and COVID is a highly contagious airborne disease. In San Jose, CA, 44 emergency room staff tested positive for COVID after a Christmas party. They think it was due to an air powered costume, you know, like those T-Rex costumes that need to be inflated to wear. That may have blown COVID air droplets, infecting 44 people, one of whom died. Obviously, I hope everyone is safe from The Flaming Lips concert and I hope they had a great time. I also hope the band waits until the vaccine rollout before they try it again.

Photo credit: CBS/YouTube, Instagram and Twitter

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14 Responses to “The Flaming Lips are doing concerts with attendees in clear inflatable bubbles”

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  1. Liane says:

    But … what if you have to go to the bathroom?

    (I am joking … kinda.)

  2. Gil says:

    That kind of concert looks really fun. It that the future of concerts?

  3. Chichi says:

    I’d love it if concerts were all like this in the covid-free future. Imagine that: no sweaty people next to you, no accidental beer spillage, no one touching you inappropriately or trying to strike up an unwanted conversation. That’s my idea of heaven. Also, shows I’m getting super old 🙈

    • Ellie says:

      Yes! Except for the people having to let you out to pee part. If I’m having a beer, no way I’ll make it through a long concert without a bathroom break.

  4. runaway says:

    It’s a very cool idea, looks great visually but I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable in a used bubble right now, no matter how well they said they cleaned it. Seems too risky

  5. Feedmechips says:

    Honestly, their shows are bizarre enough that this would fit in pretty well.

  6. tempest prognosticator says:

    I love Flaming Lips, and of course they’d have a space bubble concert.

  7. Ariel says:

    Claustrophobia makes it a no for me too. But all the credit in the world to them for trying something.

  8. TQ says:

    This is so awesome!

  9. mimi says:

    This feels very on brand for them and now I can’t imagine seeing them in concert any other way!

  10. Kristen says:

    Their concerts are AMAZING and honestly this seems like something they’d do even in normal circumstances.

  11. Amando says:

    That looks like so much fun!