Lotus in Royal Oak, MI 11.14.10
Words & Photos By J-Man
The lights were flashing in an array of colors, as the guitars were wailing. Everyone around me had their hands in the air; some with their eyes closed, some with wide-eyes, but all with the same desire to feel the energy of Lotus...
I walked into the Royal Oak Music Theater an hour after the listed show time, as I know that often times (from my previous experiences) the opening acts for Lotus are not my bag. As I entered I was surprised at how empty the place was. There was a DJ on stage playing some typical, as well as not very tasteful, non-sense. After a longer than expected set by what I was told was the second opener of the evening, Lotus took the stage.
They opened with "Harps" which I dig. I think it has an interesting vibe. It's on par with most of Lotus' most danceable material. I dig the chord progressions and I thought that the dirty bass and laptop work were utilized tastefully. Next they went into "Molluskunk" which has a somewhat dark/sleezey vibe. It's fairly simple in it's nature, but at times the band threw various tones at the crowd, evoking an excitable response. To follow was one of my favorite Lotus songs "Flower Sermon". It started with the ambient fading keys, and dropped into one of the throw downs of the night. The combination of guitar and dirty bass had me moving... and consiquently, smiling from cheek to cheek. I closed my eyes, and when I did, the lights went crazy and all I could see were vibrant colors flashing on the inside of my eyelids.
A slow version of "Invincibility of Youth" led into some straight space. Every once and a while Lotus will throw you a curve ball. One so far out of the realm of what you're expecting that you stare in disbelief... "War Pigs". Lotus was playing Sabbath's War Pigs. It sounded pretty good for what it was. They handled the tune well, and the crowd seemed to really enjoy it. "The Surf" was followed by "Plant Your Root" which went into another one of my favorites, "Nematode". Nematode allows a lot of room for jam and exploration; Lotus took full advantage of both, and I again found myself smiling with my eyes closed.
"Dowrn" began with it's minor chord progressions, leading into confusing, grinding and glitchy sounds. Often time these tones turn me off, but Lotus has a way of tastefully incorporating these sounds with their ambient grooves; to create a pretty innovative sound scape. "Greet The Mind" was next up, and chopped along with it's siren-like screams from the Jesse Miller's synthesizer. From the back of the stage came extremely precise and consistent drum chops. Mike Greenfield was really falling into the complete Lotus groove. His playing that night in Royal Oak, gave me even greater confidence in his ability to drive Lotus from the back court.
Between Luke Miller on the guitar and keys and Mike Rempel on guitar, Lotus' melodic and lead stylings are well covered. Mike's playing is casual, yet aggressive. He has the ability to go from zero to one hundred at the drop of a dime, and his ability to conduct the peaks has impressed me for some time. Luke's sytnh work really caught me off guard a couple of times. I would look over and his fingers would be moving with quite a bit of speed and dexterity.
"In An Outline", came before the final song of the set "Jump Off". Jump Off is one of my absolute favorite Lotus tunes. It came flying in with the signature guitar line, and Mike built up the tension on the drums, then BOOM. The beat dropped, with some dirty bass, and the place was moving. The lights were scanning the crowd with colorful intensity as the band ripped through my favorite song of the evening.
Lotus exited the stage for a short time and came back out to a sizable applause from those who were still in attendance. They came back onto the stage and wasted no time, jumping into "Behind Midwest Storefronts" which is an ambient song that explores the use of space as well as what sounded like the effects of circuit bent toys, though none were visible, and I assume the sounds were sampled.
I thought Lotus sounded really good. I thought that the lights, production and each individual member fit well into the balance of the Lotus vibe. I thought their use of samples, glitchy effects and whompy tones was done tastefully. Though I am not the biggest fans of those utilized techniques; I can't overlook or deny my love for Lotus. I would recommend you turn out to see them if given the opportunity and I look forward to catching them in the coming year.