Lotus & Poolside 2.7.14
The Fillmore Auditorium
Words By J. Picard
Photos By Justin Gardner
An early arrival at The Fillmore Auditorium for Poolside yielded a completely empty venue. It appeared as if we were the first to the party, which was not typical. One by one a few rail riders turned out and claimed their space at the front of the room as Poolside began their set. The young duo had the challenge of playing to one of the most relatively empty rooms that I had ever witnessed, based on size. Approximately thirty people danced, building up the energy in the nearly 3,500 person capacity room. The music was funky, tasteful, tactful and reflected a solid compositional approach, though there was not all that much happening on stage. Those who had turned out early seemed pleased and ready to get the party started. As their set continued the room slowly began to fill in. Though Poolside had the 8:00 start time working against them, in the end they utilized their time to tap into the hungry crowd. An interesting point came with a mix of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon," which I had heard prior, though really enjoyed. As the duo's set came to a close, the several hundred people in The Fillmore showed their appreciation and braced for Lotus.
"Sid" began featuring a climbing guitar with funk swagger and percussion fills that moved the crowd. The composition meandered along with noodling instrumentation before gaining steam, taking off and transitioning right back into "Bellweather!" Lotus welcomed Justin Jones and Andy Smart to the stage for some added horn work on "Break Build Burn." Somewhat subtle horns mixed with samples and digital effects made for a production heavy output. A trumpet solo from Andy opened up to Mike's guitar ripping towards the close of the track.
"We recently re-started playing one of our oldest funk songs so we thought we would have these horn guys come and reach it's full potential," Jesse Miller exclaimed.
A short time after the first set ended, the band returned to the stage for "Tip of The Tongue." The version included some very loose improvisation that opened up to vocal samples and some killer drum and percussion work leading to the closing of the song with ripping guitar. Lotus welcomed the horns back to the stage for "Uffi." The incorporation of horns add a certain depth to the songs and altered Lotus' sound leaning towards funk. In fact, since they had the horns on stage, the band figured they would just do Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star," as an unexpected treat. That point in the show confirmed that it was indeed the funkiest Lotus show that I had seen to date. Talkbox vocals delighted the young crowd and before Andy's trumpet took over followed by Justin's sax, for one last run of alternating solos.
"Bubonic Tonic" came next triggering a little bit of a needed slow down as Chuck tapped away on percussion. Stimulating tones and synth fills helped round out the composition before things started to get heavy. Deep layered drum rhythms clashed with descending synth in an all out jamtronica breakdown. The song slowed and an element of ambiance entered the picture as the song transitioned into "Sunrain." The more rock oriented tune was met with high end notation that made it feel like a dream. Ambiance turned towards destruction as the band output an incredible sonic wall of sound! "It's All Clear To Me Now" followed to the delight of the salivating crowd. Rempel's guitar work was well timed as the band nailed every cue and musical transition through out the composition. The jam was the perfect vehicle for some chaotic exploration and shredding guitar. The song took on a bit of a swagger as it transitioned into "128."
For Lotus fans, the setlist read like a fantasy and the band's execution was nothing short of impressive. The show reflected a lot of the 2006-2008 era sound and energy that folks always refer to. Moreover, it was tighter, more skillful and more thought out than the anything that I have heard the band output. Surrounded by a bunch of our friends, in our hometown, we danced the night away to one of the scene's true juggernauts. The general consensus is that Lotus is peaking... again.
Justin's Photo Gallery
Set One: Olympic Intro with Flag procession, Bellwether -> Dowrn, Sid -> Bellwether, Break Build Burn*, Opo*, Contagion -> Jump Off
Set Two: Tip of the Tongue, Uffi*, Shining Star*, Bubonic Tonic -> Sunrain, IACTMN -> 128
Encore: Marisol, Spiritualize
*Andy Smart & Justin Jones