Words by Mitch Melheim
Photos by Coleman Schwartz Media
Once again, Lotus made their way to the west coast, this time for an abbreviated tour that was supposed to begin the night before in Spokane. The show was cancelled due to low ticket sales, more of a reflection on Spokane’s music scene than Lotus’s draw in the Pacific Northwest. This allowed the band to skip over what would’ve been a 5 1/2 hour drive and instead, they showed up to Portland’s Crystal Ballroom fresh and ready to ignite the dance party we’ve come to expect from the humble yet explosive quintet.
“Wax,” an old school favorite, kicked off the night with an expansive and quirky jam which extended to the point that a friend of mine was convinced they sandwiched another song inside of it until seeing the setlist later on. “Opo” followed and continued the old school vibe with Luke Miller on guitar, my personal favorite setup that the versatile band deploys.
The first newer song of the night, “When Our Nerves No Longer Twitch,” left us with that unfortunate awkwardness that arises at Lotus shows when they’re playing pre-recorded vocals through the speakers. The band quickly made up for it though, with a huge “Suitcases” that lasted more than 25 minutes and featured “Golden Ghost” sandwiched inside of it. This segment was pure Lotus in all of its brilliance. A little bit of whomp, a whole lot of funk, and two thoroughly explored segues in between.
“When H Binds To O,” the rarest song of the night, followed and was a treat for the few who were aware of what they were witnessing. Played just 5 times in the last 2 years, “When H Binds To O” was the first song many Lotus fans heard since it opens their now legendary 2007 live album, Escaping Sargasso Sea.
The second set was one of the finer sets of music I’ve seen from this band in the past few years. Opening with a hefty “Shimmer & Out” > “Livingston Storm,” it was clear that they were going to take this set out as far as they could stretch it. “Gifford’s Airship” followed, played for just the sixth time, and preceded the best segment of the night which included a return to the set’s opening song.
“Nematode” > “Arupa” > “Shimmer & Out” lasted nearly thirty minutes and hit just about every emotion that dance music can give you. Mostly happy and hopeful, but at times very, very dark. The bouncy and sporadic “Juggernaut” closed the set before the band capped off a stellar show with a very run-of-the-mill encore of “Cream On Chrome” and “Disappear In A Blood-Red Sky.”
Coleman's Photo Gallery
Set One: Wax, Opo, When Our Nerves No Longer Twitch, Suitcases > Golden Ghost > Suitcases, When H Binds to O, The Surf
Set Two: Shimmer and Out > Livingston Storm, Giffard's Airship, Nematode > Arupa > Shimmer and Out, Juggernaut
Encore: Cream on Chrome, Disappear In A Blood-Red Sky