The Future of Concerts

By Claire Buran

February 12, 2021

The Flaming Lips, a psych-rock band from Oklahoma, pulled off their first full-length space bubble concert in Oklahoma City, with both the band and crowd members sequestered in their own sped up air pockets. 

     The band played out a few sold-out shows to promote their 2020 album “American Head,” with the 100 inflatable audience bubbles with enough room for 2-3 people inside. Frontman Wayne Coyne, who has been crowd surfing in these bubbles for years, held a trial in October after debuting the concept on an appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” in June. 

     Initially planned for December, the “Space Bubble” shows were deferred after COVID-19 cases started to rise in Oklahoma City. During the exhibitions, the band brought out huge balloons spelling out “F—You COVID-19.” 

     Is the idea feasible for different acts? Maybe — if venues take the precautions the band executed and if there is sufficient staff for bubble maintenance. To begin with, as Coyne told TMZ in November, you need a great deal of open space around the primary show floor to make it easier to keep the masked ticket holders separated while they get into the bubbles, a process that requires around 45 minutes. The bubbles, Coyne said, hold enough oxygen for three individuals to relax for roughly an hour and 10 minutes before they should be topped off or unfastened. 

     Inside the air pockets, as described in an instructional video on Coyne’s Instagram feed, are “high-frequency supplement speakers” for each concertgoer to wear around the neck like a behind the stage pass. This helps prevent the muffling of the sound through the plastic, particularly for those in the back of the venue.  

     The bubbles are additionally fitted with singular battery-worked fans, also worn around the neck, as well as water bottles and a towel to wipe down the condensation within your bubble  It can get quite hot inside, which is the reason each bubble also has a sign that says, “It’s hot in here.” The audience can then show the sign to an attendant who will refresh your bubble with new, cooler air. On the opposite side of the sign is the message, “I need to pee.” This message will prompt the attendants to assist you with getting and out without disturbing other audience members

     Toward the finish of the show, crowd individuals are told to roll their air pockets to the exit. A process that is sure to be as interesting as the actual show for that sure-to-be exhausted attendants. Once outside the venue, they are to unzip their bubble and get out. 

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