The idea of pop provocateur Miley Cyrus teaming up with psych-rock pioneers the Flaming Lips for her surprise album Miley Cyrus & the Dead Petz and an eight-city tour that hit House of Blues on Sunday seemed like a path for the proud pothead to go all psychedelic on us. But while Cyrus expanded her risqué playground into a realm that welcomes weirdness, the show gave it a largely empty, mainstream spin. She didn’t exude psychedelia; she mostly used its vibrant, pulsing colors as an entertaining backdrop.
If the 23-year-old Cyrus has taken anything from the Flaming Lips, it’s how to throw a crazier party. Bedlam broke out as soon as the singer hit the House of Blues stage to throw down “Dooo It!” and “Love Money Party” (one of the two-hour show’s only songs not drawn from the Dead Petz album) amid a dense, dizzying blizzard of confetti and huge inflatable balls that engulfed the floor crowd. And the props extended to people, including a full-figured Amazon in a rainbow afro, white tights, and little in between but a dollar-sign necklace and pasties. Shades of Parliament-Funkadelic as well as the Lips’ encore-weight maximum mayhem from the start.
Of course Cyrus threw in nods to sex (from talking about body parts to donning fake boobs and a horn-like prosthetic penis) and drugs, even sharing a toke on a spliff with fans up front. But she addressed ecology in “I Sun,” singing “Can’t you see the Earth is crying?” and let her vocals soar in “The Floyd Song (Sunrise)” and “Something about Space Dude.” However, a succession of her low-budget costumes — from a sun to a moon to a butter stick to a cereal bowl — undercut the production with an air of a cheap school play, not a presumed joke.
In turn, when Cyrus took to a solo piano with a gigantic mirror ball on top to talk and sing about her sadly departed pet blowfish Pablow, the fact that she seemed more heartfelt than parody-minded made the whole thing a bit mawkish. Even in (musically) stripped-down guise, the song served just another form of overkill in a show that proved overlong and ultimately numbing to watch, based on both young and old faces in the soldout crowd. After a while, Cyrus’ ballads settled into dirge, as the Lips were stuck in a backing-band role where Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, Michael Ivins and company focused on mood-defining, often keyboard-heavy grooves.
The confetti exploded again for a final pop-hit splash of “We Can’t Stop,” flashing back to Cyrus’ 2013 Bangerz album and breaking the Dead Petz spell just in time to call it a night. In her still-young career, Cyrus has swung from Hannah Montana to pop exhibitionist to psychedelia wannabe. What’s left for her to overexpose?
Miley Cyrus gets crazy at House of Blues with a crew including the Flaming Lips.