Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of social distancing would seem totally unfathomable. However, the “new normal” has meant that many of us have had to adapt to a world where human closeness is considered a health risk. Unfortunately, this means that many live music events have had to be canceled or rescheduled to a later date. However, rock band The Flaming Lips has come up with a way to perform concerts while keeping themselves and the audience safe.
The Flaming Lips performed at The Criterion in their hometown of Oklahoma City earlier this month, but it was no ordinary concert. The band placed themselves—and all audience members—inside individual, inflatable plastic orbs. The venue usually has a capacity of 3,500, but for this occasion, it was filled with 100 bubbles for 100 people. The live show was part of a music video shoot, and the idea was first conceived by the band’s frontman, Wayne Coyne, during the early days of the pandemic. “I did a little drawing…where I drew a picture of The Flaming Lips doing a show in 2019. And I’m the only person in the space bubble, and everybody else is just normal,” Coyne told CNN. “Then I did another drawing with The Flaming Lips playing a show in 2020. The exact same scenario, but I’m in a bubble, and so is everybody else.”
This isn’t the first time The Flaming Lips has used “space bubbles” in their shows; they even performed a Tiny Desk Concert encased in the plastic spheres. If you were to look at photos from the live show before the pandemic, you probably would have laughed at how ridiculous the scene is. However, as COVID-19 continues to spread, it seems reasonable to speculate that there could be more bubble shows in the near future. “I like the way this looks, because you can get as excited as you want, you can scream as much as you want, you just can’t infect the person next to you, no matter what you forget about, how excited you get,” says Coyne. “That barrier is still there, they’re protected, and you’re protected…that part of it is what we really felt like was the success.”
Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to the day when we can all dance together again, without plastic bubbles.