Lotus 1.20 & 1.21.17
The Variety Playhouse
Words By Julie Hutchins (Tipping Point Designs)
Photos By Coleman Schwartz Media
Traditionally, the lotus flower signifies beauty emerging from muddy waters. The soft pink petals float on top of water with loveliness and ease. Lotus, hailing from the cloudy city of Philadelphia, PA certainly grooves with the grace of an enchanted lotus garden. Housed inside the maroon walls of the Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA was blessed with a weekend visit from the masters of bliss. Recently, the quintet has made a point to balance shows with a mix of revamped classics and new releases. The two-night run delivered diverse improvisation and heater set lists reminiscent of their annual Summerdance Festival revelries.
Friday, January 20:
After experiencing the tribal heat of the dance floor I was grateful to alter my viewing experience. By some stroke of luck, we were able to grab the front row seats of the theatre. Raised about 6 feet above the pit with an eye level view of the stage, these are definitely the best seats in the house. “Spiritualize” entered the ethereal realm where Rempel and keyboardist Luke Miller create an ambient atmosphere of pure tranquility. The serene harmonies continued with an extended “Plant your Root” and I let percussionist Chuck Morris and drummer Mike Greenfield’s hypnotic beats synchronize with my thumping heart. The disco dreamland dissolved into a jazzy “Sift” that segued into “Jump Off” to end the set. I think we all lost track of time, because when Lotus left the stage the audience erupted only for a moment before they returned for a concise “Gilded Age” encore.
Coleman's Friday Photo Gallery
Set One: Wax, Blender, Move Too Fast > Sid > Suitcases, Sodium Vapor
Set Two: Spiritualize, Pachyderm, Neon Tubes, Bush Pilot, Plant Your Root > Sift > Jump Off
Encore: Gilded Age
Saturday, January 21:
Word of Friday’s flawless performance must have trickled down the grapevine because on Saturday the room was filled to the brim with bubbling Lotus lovers. We arrived early, but the line was out the door, the primo seats were all taken, and the floor felt packed. However, even in crowded shows, the friendly Lotus fan base exudes impeccable zeal and politeness.
Saturday offered a sundry of rare songs and spacey type two jams. The set opened with a high-energy “Middle Road” and the euphoric groove peaked with an extra funky Rempel guitar solo. Next, “Shimmer and Out” and “Slow Cookin’” sandwich fused uplifting, delightful tunes and intense electrifying synth waves. In the midst of segues, we were blessed with “Awake” a pacifying Tycho cover. Next, “Futureworld” a blast from the past, bounced its way in and increased the evenings funk levels. A retro “Greet the Mind” closed out the second set with an impending sense of more ecstasy to erupt.
The second set was a gold mine of OG Lotus material. As the cherry on top, the unique arrangement flowed with beautiful transitions. The strong rhythmic pulse in “Space in Between” kicked off the juicy second set segues. Jesse Miller’s full-toned, fuzzy bass and Greenfield’s disco beats surged into a glorious “Juggernaut.” The “Juggernaut” groove ascended into everyone’s favorite boogie of night, “In the Bliss.” ITB is a precious spacey porno-funk bust out that was shelved from 2003 until 2015. ITB released an outpour of positive vibes that showered the room with transcendental delight. We all snapped back to the dark reality of a double time “Juggernaut” that completed the 40 minute jam sandwich. After a successful transport into space, an exceptional “Umbilical Moonrise” peacefully shone through. Next, a face melting “Hammerstrike” closed the set and a raucous encore of “Age of Inexperience” completed the intergalactic dance voyage.
Each night, my initial post show reflections were full of positivity and awe. I left the shows feeling like my absurd dance moves were affirmed by Lotus’ infectious groove, as well as, the audience’s encouragement. On multiple occasions, random strangers high fived me and said, “Keep it up!” or “You are awesome!” and we smiled at each other as if we were old friends. The friendliness and enthusiasm from the spectators is truly reflective of the harmonious vibes Lotus channels at every show. I am so grateful for Lotus music and community and thank you for being a part of the experience! Check out their website for downloads.
Coleman's Saturday Photo Gallery
Set One: Middle Road, Shimmer and Out > Slow Cookin' > Shimmer and Out, Uffi, Awake, Futureworld > Greet the Mind
Set Two: Bubonic Tonic > Sleep When We Are Dead, Space in Between > Juggernaut > In the Bliss > Juggernaut, Umbilical Moonrise, Hammerstrike
Encore: Age of Inexperience