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About fifteen minutes into last night’s Miley Cyrus and the Dead Petz sold-out show at the Electric Factory, as it was raining confetti, glitter, giant bouncing balloons, and big “Do It” balloons, I thought about H.R. Pufnstuf, the trippy late-Sixties Saturday morning kids television show created by Syd and Marty Kroft.

A recurring theme of the mind blowing H.R. Pufnstuf – a show about a shipwrecked boy named Jimmy, his talking flute friend named Freddy, and a cast of freaky characters – is the notion of a stranger in a strange land. And as I was looking around at the sizable teenage crowd – some clad in pajamas, fur coats, bunny costumes, cheerleader outfits, and glitter in their battle bun’d hair styles – we were all strangers in this strange land, immersed in this kind of shocking, psycho weird pop of Miley and the Dead Petz – aka The Flaming Lips, with Wayne Coyne as Miley’s co-ringleader of the freak show.

Most of last night’s two-hour show, as part of Miley’s Milky Milky Milk tour, centered around the recent 23-song streaming-only concept album by Miley Cyrus, co-written and produced with The Flaming Lips. It was an over-the-top spectacle of visual, stage and lighting effects. Miley came out on stage to the distinctive “Party In The U.S.A” guitar riffs, flashing strobe-like images of a black cat and rainbow florescent lights. She was joined on stage by a 7-foot woman with a rainbow Afro wig, wearing only pasties, white spandex pants, and a large gold dollar sign chain on her chest.

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Despite the bombastic assault on the audience’s senses, her outlandish costume changes, use of wacky stage props, and the overall “huh?-ness” of the night, half-way into the show it all began to appear way too normal, and at times even boring. The music, as played by The Flaming Lips, was absolutely incredible, but Miley’s shtick and her stoned expressions of young-at-heart philosophies on life, sex, drugs, and the environment, seemed to meander.

Highlights of the show included “Slab of Butter” (complete with Miley wearing a slab of butter costume), “Bang Me Box,” “Space Boots,” “Lighter,” and with a giant disco ball as a backdrop, the transcendent pull of “Tiger Dreams.” After a rambling diatribe about how pets are the future of the world, she sat a piano for a sweet version of “Pablow The Blowfish.”

There’s often a thin line between self-indulgence and performance art that has meaningful intent. Most of her show at the Factory fell into the former category, which is unfortunate, for all the show’s conceptual potential. I give Cyrus credit for having the vision to pull off the Dead Petz project, distancing herself even further from her days as Hannah Montana. But as daring as the show might have been, we were all like little Jimmy from H.R. Pufnstuf, stuck on Living Island, strangers in a strange land, trying to find some meaningfulness in it all.

What should have been a fantastic, freaky day-glo adventure fell short of its promise. After the shock value of the first 20 minutes of the show waned, I couldn’t help but think about the title of Jane’s Addiction’s 1988 classic to sum up the night: Nothing’s Shocking.

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