The Flaming Lips & Garbage perform for drenched Pondamonium

Rain has been in short supply this summer in the Midwest, so an overabundance of it during the Madison Mallards’ first ever Pondamonium was a bit of a disappointment. Precipitation couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time than to interrupt an amazing lineup featuring Madison’s own Garbage and The Flaming Lips.

Upon arrival to the Madison Mallards’ minor league baseball park in which the concert was being held, the rain held off to the north, but its massive thunderstorm cells threatened the ~5000 fans already gathered in the outfield.

Nobody wanted it to rain, not even after the scorching hundred degree days that left the Midwest in a two month drought. And after thunderstorms threatened Chicago’s Lollapalooza, which eventually had to be evacuated, nobody wanted to toy with the chance that it might happen to Pondamonium too.

“It’s Garbage day in Madison!” an on stage rep shouted just before Garbage took the stage, resulting in a loud response from the crowd. After all this was a band that many in attendance grew up listening to and befriending during their 30-year music making experience. “We’ve been making music in Madison for 30 fucking years!” yelled drummer Butch Vig.

As Madison’s Garbage took the stage at 7pm a few clouds rolled and gave the crowd a little sprinkle. It didn’t last long, but it was long enough to saturate most everything that wasn’t covered. Scottish singer Shirley Manson joked about how wet the stage was becoming and told the stage hands as they were attempting to mop up the ‘pond’ that they should just “forget it; I’ll try not to break a leg,” jokingly of course.

Manson also made everyone realize how special this performance was to the band and anyone from the Madison area. She made the band members each say something which for the most part consisted of “thank you’s” and telling everyone how “happy they are to be in Madison playing for all our friends.”

Garbage’s sort of pop-rockish feel sounded very progressive with a touch of electronics to accent their sound. It wasn’t over the top or too heavy. It’s a genius blend of pop, alternative, and just the correct density of rock to get people going but not leave them on their face in the middle of a circle pit if you follow.

Although attendance was a little less than expected, Garbage still put on a good show. As a band they were very clean and crisp with little to speak for in terms of mistakes. Their seasoned efforts earned them a solid rock show featuring hits that dotted their entire music career.

Though, at times around the venue, the mix of vocals sounded a bit muddy and not as clear as up in front. Clarity issues aside, the show was a success even with the rain. For a hometown performance their hearts were all in it and you could really hear it in their performance.

The unsavory storm clouds were rolling in again…and after everyone thought they were gone. A sort of bummed out vibe took over Pondamonium after Garbage went offstage and it was looking more and more like rain.

The Flaming Lips took quite a while to set up, but the mood was lightened by Wayne Coyne being onstage helping set up his gear, teasing the crowd and shooting off his reload-able confetti filled pipe canons.

And as fast as the rain left during Garbage it came back just before The Flaming Lips, and it wasn’t just a drizzle. It poured for a solid 10 minutes drenching multi thousand dollar cameras and a thin but still charismatic crowd. A quick break followed as everything was dried up and the show went on.

The Flaming Lips are just not The Flaming Lips in concert without the theatrics. Confetti cannons blasting little brightly colored pieces of paper everywhere. Of course a large grin dominated Wayne Coyne’s face throughout most of the show.

When attending The Flaming Lips in concert music is almost in the background with the show being dominated by what’s taking place on stage and particularly what’s being tossed, shot, or rolling around in the crowd.

Breaking out the classic 8-foot human sized plastic ball, Wayne crawled in and as soon as it was inflated, he rolled his way out into the tightly packed sea of bodies with hands sky high.

Attractive side stage dancers, weird looking and sometimes broken instruments, crazy LED shows on the rear screen and Wayne’s antics brought Pondamonium to life. There is never a single disappointment with The Flaming Lips. If in your lifetime there is ever a chance to see these guys live, do not hesitate, get out there and go!

Garbage Setlist: Intro – Automatic Systematic Habit – Paranoid – Shut Your Mouth – Metal Heart – Queer – Stupid Girl – Why Do You Love Me – Control – #1 Crush – Cherry Lips – Blood for Poppies – Special – Milk – Big Bright World – Battle In Me – Only Happy – Push It – Not Your Kind of People – Vow

For more photos check out the shots from Summerfest 2011

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