First Concerts and The Flaming Lips in Tulsa
It’s clearly been a wild week here in Green Country — a week so wonky it has brought up memories of the 2007 ice storm and the 2011 blizzard — both of which I was ridiculously pregante for. Since we never lost power like our friends Tara and Joss of Spaghetti on the Wall, we have turned our house into a hangout spot for friends and neighbors in need of some WiFi, AC, a decent meal, a shower, or a nap.
But right before things turned “Walking Dead”-adjacent, we had the chance to do something we’d been dreaming of for years at this point: taking our kids to see one of our favorite bands.
For their dad and me, going to concerts has always been a big part of our life together. Justin saw his first concert — a Stryper show — around sixth grade, and my first show was an R.E.O. Speedwagon concert with my parents. My mom, who was a huge fan of the band, took a latch hook rug and sat in the stands making a rug before the show started, much to my middle-school embarrassment.
My husband and I were together for 12 years before we had kids, and in that time, we saw hundreds of shows together. We even took Arthur to Bonnaroo Music Festival when he was a little over a year old — he learned to walk there somewhere between the Erykah Badu and Wilco sets, and I was later interviewed for a New York Times piece on taking babies to music festivals (spoiler: it’s all about preparedness and centering the baby’s needs).
But with multiple kids and neurodiversity on board, going to shows would have to take a back seat for a few years, excepting the occasional free outdoor concert like The Roots show at the Gathering Place in 2018.
Still, we’ve always dreamed of taking our whole family to concerts together, and we had hoped we would finally be able to when the kids hit their tween years. But then the pandemic showed up just as our kids were finally hitting that benchmark, and our dream of seeing a concert with the whole fam was crushed.
One of our favorite bands to see has always been The Flaming Lips, helmed by Oklahoma native Wayne Coyne. Their shows are all about loving others, overcoming adversity even when it’s hard, and truly living in the moment. They’re also colorful, whimsical, happy explosions of light, confetti, and joy. That’s why when tickets for a Flaming Lips show at the Tulsa Theater went on sale a couple of months ago, we jumped at the chance.
We were super excited for the opportunity to finally take our entire family to see one of our favorite bands, especially a band we know our kids love as much as we do. Funnily enough, it wouldn’t end up being the kids’ first real concert together — that was the Big Ride festival downtown on June 10th featuring another band we love, Ghostland Observatory. It was a fantastic show, and it was completely free for anyone who signed up for tickets before they ran out. The promoters did a fantastic job, and it was just incredible to see so many Tulsans out celebrating together again in the heart of our beautiful city.
But if that show was fun, taking the kids to see the Lips, a band we’ve seen play several times during our 22 years of marriage, would be the realization of a longtime dream for both of us. We met up with some friends ahead of the show, good friends Justin and I have seen plenty of shows with through the years. As we shuffled into the theater, we noticed many of the folks who were already seated rocking mushroom hats that we learned, after some investigation, had been given out by a pair of women before the show. While I didn’t score a mushroom hat, I came with my own millinery, which would eventually be sacrificed to Lucy’s confetti-gathering efforts.
The show ran for about three hours, every moment packed with pure energy, joy, and fun. I’ve always loved that incredible feeling of everyone coming together sharing a positive experience, a feeling of community and love that amplifies when you’re at a live music show, and it was awesome to see the kids absorbing all of that energy. For the first half of the show, the band played their album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” in its entirety, an album we loved so much we decorated Baby Lucy’s first bedroom in Flaming Lips art and colors inspired by the album back in 2011. After a short break, they came back and played another long set including a very Lipsian cover of Madonna’s “Borderline.”
Afterward, I asked the kids what they thought of the show. They were all pretty blown away, with Noah remarking that he loved every song and was especially surprised by all of the lasers, fog, confetti, LED curtain, and giant pink robot inflatables.
Moments after we shuffled out of the show, hugging our friends goodbye and squeezing into the car, we found ourselves serenaded by tornado sirens for the ride home that would kick off a pretty intense week for many of our family, friends, and neighbors. But seeing the Lips show literally moments before we would be called on to pull together for our neighbors who need us was just another reminder that it’s important to find joy together even when times are tough — exactly what I love most about sharing a concert experience.