By Michael Cerio
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Unfortunately, we can’t write in rainbows, so it’s impossible to completely capture the spectacle that was Miley Cyrus on Saturday night in Philadelphia.
That being said, let’s give it a shot.
As the sold-out crowd at Electric Factory pressed together in pink rabbit onesies and bare-chested fur coats, the crowd looked like a living bowl of Lucky Charms as they anxiously awaited Miley to take the stage.
There’s been a lot building to this moment. After her turn hosting the Video Music Awards for MTV, the now twenty-three year old singer announced the free release of an experimental album backed by The Flaming Lips. Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz is an hour and a half long mish-mash of music that’s an onerous listen about drugs, body parts, and animal friends that are gone but not forgotten. It’s the latest chapter in a book Cyrus began writing in Philadelphia.
The once clean-cut Disney princess began “evolving” after a summer in Philadelphia – here with then boyfriend Liam Hemsworth while he filmed a movie. “I was away from people for a minute, and I just started feeling my own vibe. I bought a pair of Doc Martens. I shaved my head. Driving a **** Ford Explorer around. Just blending in” she told Rolling Stone in 2013. A few years and a handful of NSFW moments later, Miley would return to Philly to show off her latest batch of technicolor madness as her Milky Milky Milk tour made one of its eight stops at Electric Factory.
Before Miley took the stage, Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips shuffled along the stage, tuning instruments and throwing out confetti. The guitar riff of “Party In The U.S.A.” began as the crowd erupted, but it quickly gave way to the new Cyrus and the Dead Petz lead track “Dooo It!”. Out came Cyrus in her first of ten outfits, wearing a rainbow bodysuit with a smiley-faced cape and multi-colored dreds. With a LED backdrop of psychedelic schemes and kittens, she was flanked by a large shirtless dancer sporting glitter moneybag pasties and one dressed as teeth – both who threw giant DO IT balloons into the frenzied crowd.
That would set the tone for the evening. An eye-gasm of weird as Cyrus navigated her new set of songs.
What would follow was a barrage of balloon balls, confetti, glitter and a THC-soaked closet of costumes. Her Rainbow Brite on acid look soon gave way to a sun costume. After a few songs the sun costume was replaced by a moon costume as the music took a lower key. This was a replaced by an oversized baby costume with a blinged-out bottle and a hula hoop waist.
Interestingly, the album sounds better live. Cyrus’ voice was on and impressive and The Flaming Lips (starring tonight as her Dead Petz) kept it tight and fun. The band also took on the role of distracters and chaperones as they entertained the crowd during Miley’s multiple costume changes. The normally impatient Philadelphia fans were kept tranquilized with music and confetti as Cyrus scooted off stage to change.
For all the talk of Miley being a “mess” or “out of control”, it was incredibly obvious on this night just how much she is orchestrating her own moment. From the stage she talked about wanting to live in a world without AIDS, taking back her own body, and caring for animals. If you can see through the haze of weed smoke and dazzling imagery, she’s just channeling her art in a way that’s comfortable for her and makes sense to a large and young portion of this country. She’s a culture warrior dressed like a stick of butter.
PHOTO GALLERY: Miley Cyrus Rocks Philly’s Electric Factory
No that’s real. After stripping from her baby costume and possibly lighting a joint on stage, Cyrus would eventually come out dressed as both a stick of butter and a bowl of cereal. Her most spectacular costume though would be dressed like a mirrorball in shimmering silver with a helmet to match.
Cyrus would finish her set with the touching piano tribute to her dog Floyd, returning for an encore sporting a prosthetic phallus, pasties, and a rainbow mohawk. She would end the show with the lone song not from her Dead Petz album. A massive balloon reading “**** Yeah Philly” floated into the crowd as she worked her way through “We Can’t Stop”.
With that, Cyrus once again left Philadelphia as an artist completely in control of her moment, and the crowd left covered in glitter and confetti – completely appreciative.