Lotus & El Ten Eleven 2.11.17
Words By Mitch Melheim
Photos By Coleman Schwartz Media
The 750-person McDonald Theatre is what I would consider the premier music venue in the Pacific Northwest. Owned by the Kesey family and at nearly 100-years old, the influence of the venue’s past can’t be ignored but what sets the McDonald apart from other historic theaters is the venue’s willingness to create and be a part of new memories. The luxury of being surrounded by helpful and smiling staff will improve anybody’s concert experience, especially once already satisfied with the venue’s crisp sound and never-ending sight lines, two things that were lacking in Portland.
Opening with “Bubonic Tonic” from their 2006 album The Strength of Weak Ties, the band established an old-school feel that remained apparent throughout the show aside from a couple songs off of 2016’s Eat the Light (“I’ve Been A Fool” & “Suntan”) and a perfectly-placed second set “Massif.”
The contorted, yet distorted funky groove of “Blender” brought along one of the more fun jams of the first set, only to be topped by the set-closing segment of “Lead Pipe” > “Golden Ghost” > “Spiritualize” that showcased the band’s uncanny ability to create segues on the fly.
“Spiritualize” was the highlight of the entire weekend for me. The Lotus crowd just seems to get down harder than other fanbases and it’s one of my favorite things about seeing the band. They’re rarely ever chatty and always groovin’. This jam was no exception as we all took advantage of the extra floor space in the McDonald that night and created a swarm of bouncing bliss. It’s these experiences, like dancing with twenty of my best friends with our backs turned to the stage that sets these “Lotus Vibes” apart from other shows.
The second set gave old-school Lotus fans just what they were craving, opening with “L’immeuble” off of their debut album Vibes and segueing into “Tip Of The Tongue” from there. “Tip Of The Tongue” is a nice reminder that Lotus having lyrics in songs and playing along to vocal tracks is nothing new, something that I think a lot of people had confused when they released Eat the Light.
The undeniably funky and rare “Philly Hit” kicked off the next segment, transitioning seamlessly into the ever-swaying drum & bass groove of “Arupa.” The frantic and intense pace of the “Arupa” guitar riff eventually slowed down into a peaceful outro that brought upon an unexpected, but perfectly placed segue into the squeaky and sporadic “Massif.”
Back to the oldies for a fittingly relevant “Kesey Seed” before getting weird one last time with the smug, galactic-jazz get down known as “Wax.” One of my favorites, “Wax” is chock full of peaks and valleys all tied together by its quirky jazz-funk backbone.
They began the encore with “Colorado,” a song so made for the encore spot that it actually closed out their classic album Nomad. That was not the case this night as they stayed out for one more after “Colorado,” opting to let us end the night with the more dancey and upbeat “Gilded Age.”
Coleman's Photo Gallery
Set One: Bubonic Tonic > I've Been A Fool (Toy Guns), Blender, Suntan, Lead Pipe > Golden Ghost > Spiritualize
Set Two: L'immeuble > Tip Of The Tongue, Philly Hit > Arupa > Massif, Kesey Seed, Wax
Encore: Colorado, Gilded Age