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The Flaming Lips play socially distanced show by putting band and fans in life-sized bubbles

By Benjamin Bullard
The Flaming Lips perform in bubbles

Staying inside through the long days of the coronavirus lockdown can definitely feel isolating. For those of us who’ve kept our outside ventures to a minimum, you might even say it feels like being trapped inside our own little bubble.

Nobody needs to make that point to The Flaming Lips, though. Long known for offbeat live shows that at times have placed quirky frontman Wayne Coyne inside an inflatable plastic shell, the Lips apparently are taking the whole bubble-isolation idea to its next logical conclusion.

Showing up this week for a taped stage performance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the band ripped through “Race for the Prize,” a 1999 hit that’s long been a staple of their live shows and remains one of their best-known songs. But it wasn’t just Coyne who decided to take refuge behind a shiny transparent barrier this time around; instead, the whole band and audience enjoyed socially distanced safety while ensconced inside big blow-up pods of polymer.

Weird? Definitely. Theatrical? For sure. This is what the scaled-up version of self-isolation looked like — complete with bubble dancers, bubbles for the in-house audience, and even a mom and baby cheering from their own bubbly confines:

The Flaming Lips "Race For The Prize" - Late Show #PlayAtHome

A stage filled with bouncy blobs, tadpoled with musicians doing their thing — it makes for a strange, almost spacey tableau with a hint of 1960s-era Barbarella vibes. But weirdness has always been a part of The Flaming Lips’ appeal, so we guess it makes sense that they’d be the ones to give us a real picture of how isolation looks when everybody’s doing it all at once.

If anything, it at least goes to show that where there’s a will, there’s a way. If these guys can croon (where’s the oxygen coming from?!) and flail on drums while stuck inside personal shells that let them come together while staying apart, there’s probably not a lot that humans can’t accomplish in their own spaces, lockdown or not.

At least that’s what we’ll tell ourselves if ever we’re stuck and stir-crazy inside our homes again, with plenty of time to self-improve ... and not a lot of space to do it.