In a ceremony before the Miley Cyrus and the Dead Petz show on Saturday night at the Electric Factory, Wayne Coyne, lead singer for the Flaming Lips (Miley's band for the show, renamed the Dead Petz), blessed the crowd by sprinkling glitter confetti and blasting a cannon of party streamers. Thus he gave us permission to embrace the unlikely collaboration between Cyrus and the Lips.
Cyrus' limited-city Milky Milky Milk tour is in support of her surprise (and free!) streaming opus, Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz - a 23-song, 90-minute concept album with most of the songs cowritten and coproduced by the Lips. Cyrus was about to create a trippy atmosphere for a nonstop two-hour set, with so much spectacle it was hard to focus on the music, and Coyne would contribute not only musically but also by throwing handfuls of glitter from a designated bag.
A giant projection of a cat flashed in the background as Miley jumped out in a Rainbow Brite-inspired costume and sang about how she didn't give a [blank]. While inflatable gold balloons labeled "Do It" floated through the crowd, a 7-foot-tall woman in pasties and spandex and a 5-foot-tall woman wearing a set of teeth and rainbow tights occupied the stage. These two did not make much sense in themselves, but they were there to add to the spectacle, which they did.
It was hard not to fall for this Willy-Wonka-on-hallucinogens circus, as so many giant balloons bounced through the crowd it was impossible to see the stage. Once they popped, we saw a new Miley wearing a giant sun costume and singing brassily on her knees with the command of a pop star used to playing stadiums. Clocking two-plus hours of stage time, Cyrus, who often seemed like Coyne's surrogate daughter, gave the audience a lot to digest. The costume changes were performances unto themselves, from a disco-ball helmet and unitard to a strip-teasing baby to a slab of butter. No, really. Butter.
The tune "Slab of Butter" was a psychedelic slow jam in which both Cyrus and the Lips showcased their strengths. In "Karen Don't Be Sad," Miley led the band as if she had been a member since infancy. She channeled Pat Benatar in the '80s-style "Lighter," while the smaller female dancer swayed behind her dressed as a papier mâché hand holding a lighter.
Toward the end, Cyrus got as down to earth as she would get, performing a tribute to her deceased pet, "Pablow the Blowfish." Her final change was into a rainbow unicorn getup with male genitalia. All night, she pushed the envelope, as if Lisa Frank made unicorn-patterned rolling papers instead of stationery.