Wayne Coyne's fantasy festival: the Beatles on the International Space Station

The Flaming Lips frontman curates a cosmic lineup featuring Miles Davis, Igor Stravinsky, Pink Floyd – and space cakes

Location

Since we are talking fantasy, my festival would be on the International Space Station. In 1968 or 69, I remember talking about the film 2001: A Space Odyssey with my older brothers. The movie implied that we would be visited by aliens in some utopian society, which seemed very possible at seven or eight years old. So, the festival would hold 20,000 people, you could all book hotels and then go out into space. It’s the way I saw the future when I was a child.

The headline act

If we are putting on a fantasy concert, wouldn’t everybody want to see the Beatles? They would be backed by a giant orchestra and a bunch of electronic stuff; I Am the Walrus would have giant choirs and horns. I actually dream about seeing the Beatles, usually as older guys who stayed together and didn’t split up.

Five more acts

Staying true to the fantasy, I would love to have seen Miles Davis in the Bitches Brew era, where he totally went electric and said “fuck it”, and wore the red pants and had about 12 people in his group playing some freaky electronic stuff. I listened to it constantly, usually alone because everyone else thought it was too crazy.

On another stage, I’d have Igor Stravinsky conducting the Firebird Suite. This is a long classical piece, but I latched on to bits of it like they’re eight-minute pop songs. In my fantasy, it’s loud and giant and thick and sounds insane and intense, through giant electronic speakers, with a light show.

Elton John is such a great singer, with an emotional way of connecting, but it must be torture for him not to be able to sing like he did in his 20s. So, I’m going back in time to Elton in the 70s, when he has got the voice and the songs are still fresh. He would be in the outrageous glam costumes, maybe the gigantic boots from the film Pinball Wizard.

I have seen the Silver Apples play, but I’d love to have seen them in their peak, when they first came up with their bizarre sound with the oscillators and the drumming. Few, if any, videos of them playing live exist, so they’re a group that exist in the imagination.

I’d love to have seen Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, or doing The Dark Side of the Moon. In the mid-70s, my younger brother went to a midnight movie to see a stupid science fiction film, A Boy and His Dog, but the support movie was Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii. My brother smoked a joint in the movie theatre while we watched Pink Floyd, and it utterly changed my life.

The non-musical activity

Whenever we are at festivals, my wife, Katy, and I always long for a giant, air-conditioned dark tent, where everybody goes at three o’clock in the afternoon and just sleeps. When you’re at a festival, you’re awake all night, but there’s never anywhere to just rest. The idea is that everybody goes to sleep at the same time, so no one misses anything.

The food

One of the great unfixable dilemmas that all festivals have is that you eventually have to go to the toilet that has been shared by half a million people. So, in my fantasy at the space station, we would eat space cake that has been exactly proportioned to your weight and your activities, so you eat just the right amount and never go to the bathroom. Isn’t that something we should all be striving for?

• The Flaming Lips’ new album American Head is released 11 September on Bella Union.

Contributor

Interview by Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Melanie C's fantasy festival: Beyoncé, Prince and five kinds of chips
The Spice Girls star heads to the Lake District for a carb-laden, booze-heavy weekend with Queen, the Beatles and more

Interview by Dave Simpson

27, Aug, 2020 @4:00 PM

Article image
IAMDDB's fantasy festival: 'Rihanna's got to be there – she's a buff ting!'
The Manchester rapper imagines 48 hours in Ibiza surrounded by Black Coffee, Megan Thee Stallion and her own octopus recipe

Interview by Timi Sotire

31, Jul, 2020 @9:00 AM

Article image
The 100 greatest UK No 1s: 100-1
Look back on our complete countdown of the greatest UK No 1s, from the Beatles to Baby D, and So Solid Crew to Suzi Quatro

Ben Beaumont-Thomas, Alexis Petridis and Laura Snapes

05, Jun, 2020 @8:00 AM

Article image
Jay Baruchel's fantasy festival: deep-diving into The Crow with Ian Curtis and Oreos
The How to Train Your Dragon star, whose Random Acts of Violence is out next month, brings Brandon Lee and Edgar Allan Poe back to life in a homage to his favourite movie

As told to Ryan Gilbey

31, Jul, 2020 @11:00 AM

Article image
'Socially distanced Venetian gondolas!' – Rufus Wainwright on his dream festival
With festival season cancelled, we’re starting a new series asking stars for their dream lineups. First up is Rufus Wainwright, blending opera and Florence Welch

Interview by Dave Simpson

02, Jul, 2020 @4:00 PM

Article image
Beatles biographer Philip Norman: 'Yoko was waiting for me – with two lawyers'
He has charmed Elton John, angered Paul McCartney – and horrified Yoko Ono. What will he uncover about the ‘murky’ death of Jimi Hendrix? The great rock writer reveals the pain – and pleasure – of chasing stars

Philip Norman

11, Nov, 2018 @3:00 PM

Article image
Rocketmen and stardust: why music biopics dominate the film industry
Pop star glamour is an increasingly bankable asset for movie producers, with biopics of David Bowie, Keith Moon and others coming in the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody

Dave Simpson

01, Feb, 2019 @1:15 PM

Article image
'A 50-storey-tall Iggy Pop!' Alison Mosshart's fantasy festival
The Kills star, who releases a spoken word album this month, imagines a New York festival with speakers on every corner – and a resurrected Jimi Hendrix

Interview by Jenessa Williams

23, Jul, 2020 @3:00 PM

Article image
Lars Ulrich's fantasy festival: AC/DC and Bob Marley on Easter Island
As well as brushing up on Polynesian migration paths with a falafel in hand, the Metallica drummer imagines ancient rock giants next to giant ancient rocks

Interview by Dave Simpson

20, Aug, 2020 @4:00 PM

Article image
The Beatles in India: ‘With their long hair and jokes, they blew our minds!’
Two new documentaries offer intriguing insights on how the Beatles’ 1967 escape to study transcendental meditation shaped the band and India, baffled the KGB – and saw Ringo survive on a diet of baked beans

Andrew Male

03, Jun, 2021 @12:00 PM