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Published: 2002/12/13
by Jason Donmoyer

Lotus, Big Breakfast, 1616 Club, Philadelphia, PA- 12/7

Two Hemp Brothers Throwdown

The swanky venue known as the 1616 Club was an unlikely location for the Two
Hemp Brothers end of year throwdown. It was a venue that appeared much more
suited to the rumored Puff Daddy private party that was supposedly held
there. Several rooms, all adorned with plush sofas, were spaced nicely to
allow each act space to do their thing while remaining within short walking
distance to one of the three bar areas. The throwdown featured Big
Breakfast, two DJs and Lotus.

Billed as battle of the funk, the throwdown had something to offer to
everyone. A trance DJ was spinning throughout the night downstairs while a
hip-hop DJ filled in before the bands took the stage and during set breaks.

Big Breakfast was up first. Reminiscent of an early but tighter knit Fathead, their unique six piece
arrangement was able to get the crowd moving and paved the way for them to
remain moving for the rest of the night. Jamiroquai inspired rhythms, mixed
with the melodies created by their jazz-funk inspired keyboardist and the
unique sounds which occur when a clarinet player and saxophonist compete in
the space frequently occupied by a guitarist, give Big Breakfast an
interesting World music sound.

Big Breakfast finished their set and the DJ took over, keeping the crowd's
energy high. The members of Lotus took the stage and began to improvise
with the DJ eventually segueing into Flower Sermon. They kept the crowd
going with their fusion of jazz electronica and ambient drum and bass until
a power failure during the intro of Livingston Storm forced them to take a
slight breather. They quickly regrouped and easily got the throwdowners
back in the groove. The Intro to a cell sandwiched between Suitcases and
Sandwiches was an intense display of Lotus' unique take on live electronica.
If there was any doubt as to why Lotus was participating in a "Battle of the
Funk", the set closer, Soma, should have displaced it. In several songs,
Lotus's second guitarist doubled as a synth player which made this already
robust quintet appear to have even more depth.

Lotus's composed and improvised instrumental style is a welcome change
compared to the often times forced vocals of other bands. They have a knack
for taking many good elements from electronica and recreating them in a live
setting while keeping the groove fresh. Their rhythm section is tight, but
not rigid, allowing the other band members the ability to explore the
tonespace as they see fit.

Lotus and Big Breakfast are both part of a growing trend in the jam band
scene, in that they rely on multiple percussionists to create a rhythmic
texture akin to ritualistic tribal or heavily layered electronic music.
Given this similarity, Big Breakfast's brand of funk and Lotus'
"Organic-Ambient-Trance-Funk" aren't remotely comparable. Lotus and Big
Breakfast have each taken their musical style in a different direction while
still complimenting each other's sound nicely and demonstrating how both can
appeal to fans of many different genres. The throwdown overall appeared to
be a success and the acts involved will probably benefit because of the
varied audience which was drawn to this venue. I'm already looking forward
to next year.

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