Music: Now that's what I call garage music!

Tomorrow, the Flaming Lips treat London to a little sound party. Their instrumentation? Forty ghetto-blasters.

On a spring afternoon last year in Austin, Texas, Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips was pacing round a fume-filled parking garage yelling manically through a loud hailer. Manoeuvring through almost 2,000 onlookers he somehow directed 30 cars into their designated spaces. Each driver had been given a different tape of specifically programmed music, sounds and frequencies Coyne had put together for the last of the "Parking Lot Experiments" which he started conducting a year earlier in his hometown of Oklahoma City.

With 30 car stereos playing simultaneously, it was one loud experience, and a freaky one too, with samples such as a woman in orgasm and a pack of dogs howling bouncing round the walls. It had the effect of a Surroundsound of many different textures, but more than anything it was an event, and a fun one too. Even those not sitting in cars had a chance to mingle and catch different aspects of this mad room of sound.

"The parking lot thing started off for my amusement," Coyne says, "but as time went by I could see that people were really into participating. The weirdest thing about Austin was that no one actually got run over in the confusion."

After Austin, stage two was to take the experiment into people's homes, and the Flaming Lips released Zaireeka, a four- CD set that has to be played all at once to achieve the full aural effect (the title is a combination of the words Zaire and Eureka, which to Coyne sum up the feelings of chaos and creative breakthrough). The other important point about Zaireeka is that it does contain real Lips songs of sheer beauty as opposed to some noodly cacophony.

In retrospect, it's clear that the Lips are a band oppressed by the confines of traditional recording formats. There's also the conundrum that over their seven-album career they haven't received the recognition accorded to lesser bands. Sure, they were quirky and psychedelic, but what about fuzzed-up pop gems such as "Turn It On" and "Be My Head"? Then again, maybe it was because they rattled on about outer space, giraffes and brains and had song titles like "Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World" that consigned them to the cult corner.

To hear Zaireeka as Coyne and company planned it is a pain, as it means getting four CD players and, preferably, four operators in one room at the same time, but Coyne's argument runs along the lines that, too often, listening to music is passive. "It's like when you go to the movies you sit there and shut out everything else. With Zaireeka, with all the setting up that's involved, I wanted listening to music to become an event. I think that sometimes people see rock as being a not very expansive territory anymore. I don't see why a rock band like ourselves, more interested in recording than performing, has to make a record and spend the next two years doing a typical roadshow thing. I don't have that bone in me that I have to be out there getting adoration, so I've always been looking for a way of taking the recording and the performing and trying to squish the both together. I started to see DJs just showing up with their records and I thought what a great way to be. They don't have to bring musicians and instruments with them to recreate sounds. I started to see that you don't have to do that anymore. A younger audience seems to accept that they can listen to recordings and it doesn't necessarily have to be a band in front of them."

So welcome to stage three - the boom-box experiment - which has its only scheduled European performance tomorrow in London. Instead of cars, there will be 40 ghetto blasters on stage, conducted and mixed by the three Lips members. Some of the operators are invited (members of My Bloody Valentine, Lush and the Boo Radleys are supposed to be coming along), but most will be made up of fans selected from a mad scramble at the start of the concert. At similar events in the US they've had problems as fans trip over cables, unplugging the speakers.

"Yeah there's a great deal of thought that has to go into it," Coyne says. "We've even timed the length of the show in line with the capacity of the average human bladder. All those volunteers aren't used to having to pay attention for an hour, and, since every tape is timed to play at a certain time, we can't have people going to the bathroom."

Technical hitches and involuntary bowel movements aside, it's certain that you'll won't see a band presenting great music in such a way this year. The "typical roadshow thing" may be in for a big wake-up call.

Zaireeka - experimental concert by the Flaming Lips, The Forum, London NW5, tomorrow (0181-963 0940); 'Zaireeka' is on Warner Bros.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

    Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

    £10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

    £17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

    Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

    £32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot