Flaming Lips Perfects Socially Distanced Rock 'n' Roll — by Playing Inside Bubbles!

The band performed their song "Race for the Prize" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

The Flaming Lips could be on to something here....

On Wednesday, the rock band appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform their song "Race for the Prize." Rather than a collage of split-screen band mates playing separately while social distancing (like so many other groups and artists have done in past weeks) the Flaming Lips got onstage.

With oversized plastic bubbles separating them, of course!

The band found a pandemic work-around, simulating a mini live concert with each bandmate and audience member in their own bubble.

Using the dramatic props, as well as gloves and masks, amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the group was able to perform the prescient song from their 1999 album The Soft Bulletin with heightened relevance.

"Two scientists are racing / For the cure of all mankind / Both of them side by side / So determined," frontman Wayne Coyne belted from within his bubble. "Locked in heated battle / For the cure that is their prize / But it's so dangerous / But they're determined."

the flaming lips
Flaming Lips perform at The Lawn at White River State Park on July 26, 2019, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Keith Griner/Getty

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Large bubbles aren't a completely new element for the Flaming Lips. Coyne, 59, has been known to crowd-surf at performances while enclosed in them, and one of their recent music videos showed the singer roaming inside a see-through orb.

For the "Flowers of Neptune 6" music video — a single they debuted last month with featured vocals from Kacey Musgraves — Coyne wraps himself in an American flag while he walks in a bubble around a fiery countryside.

In an interview for Desert Daze in October, Coyne mused on bubbles as a motif in his work, saying he doesn't want to exist confined in a metaphorical one.

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"Even though I walk in the space bubble at our shows, I really don’t want to be in a bubble in my life. I want to be with you all," he said at the time. "That’s a big thing for artists because they always want to think they’ve got their own special way of making music that no one knows of. I hope that I’ll never forget and go off to the other side again."

He added: "I want to be here, in this life, with everybody else, and laughing at what they laugh at and crying at what they cry at. I don’t want to be some isolated wizard living up on the hill."

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