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Published: 2003/06/20
by Dan Greenhaus

Lotus, No Moore, NYC- 6/17

Not since I attended Particle's 12/18/01 show at the Knitting Factory here
in New York City, have I entered a show with higher expectations for a band
I’ve never seen. Last night I journeyed down into Tribeca to check out
Lotus, a band that has made something of a name for itself on the west
coast, despite having been located in Philly since June 2002. The band has
been grouped into the "Disco Biscuits/New Deal/STS9" genre, due in no small
part to them describing their own music as "Organic Ambient Trance Funk",
which brings to me to something I’ve been wondering for a while now;

What is "Organic" anyway?

Moving on, No Moore is a nice little venue over in Tribeca that is currently
beginning a renovation that will hopeful upgrade the lackluster sound system
and curious lighting rig. Its nothing that can’t be fixed, but when added to
the suspect decor of the place, it makes it a less than desirable location
to play music. That being said, the venue has still booked acts ranging
from Antibalas to Charlie Hunter to Bernie Worrell. But on Tuesday night,
it was Lotus’ turn to grace the stage, and they did so around 9:45, greeted
by a very modest crowd, which was comprised of around twenty or so friends
who seem to make it out to most shows in this genre. But by the end of
their set, the crowd had swelled to somewhere around 125 or so people, due
in small part to the arriving crowd for the later band, Townhall.

The band, comprised of two guitars, bass, drums and percussion, began their
hour and a half long set with "Soma", which clarified for everyone in
attendance exactly what "Organic Ambient Trance Funk" really was. Although
to simplify its description, I would have chosen "Ambient Groove", because,
quite frankly, that’s exactly what it was.

Moving through "Soma", the band seemed nervous and somewhat reserved,
playing for the relatively small NYC crowd, but the band found its groove
for the first time in the second song, "Juggernaut". The band is very
young, that much is clear, but on "Juggernaut" they proved that despite
their callow status as a band, they are still quite capable of laying "it" down
when necessary. The band most closely resembles the egoless music of Sound
Tribe Sector 9, but with a "punch" that they lack. Both guitar players
relegated themselves to rhythm roles, as they played virtually toneless lead
lines that blended in with the music, rather than fronted it. Jesse
Miller’s bassline throughout "Juggernaut" was reserved, as it was all night,
and I often found myself wanting him to be more ambitious, working with
Steve Clemens’ steady drum work in an effort to push the jams further and
harder. As the night progressed, through songs like "Suitcases and
Sandwiches," Lotus’ trappings were exposed. When going to see a relatively
young and upcoming band, a fan must take certain things in account when
assessing the music, and Lotus is no different. The band, at least from
what they displayed on this night, is very one-dimensional, in that they
rarely if ever "pushed" the music beyond the ambience that permeated the
set. In the instances that they were able to do so, on the aforementioned
"Juggernaut" and the second to last song of the night, "Flower Sermon", the
band was greeted with enthusiastic cheers from the dancing crowd, and
rightfully so. If the band can figure out how to harness those instances,
learn from them, and develop their sound around those points, they certainly
have a tremendous upside and can expect to be playing much larger crowds in
the future.

At the completion of their set, the band was convinced by the crowd to play
an encore, and in their youthful exuberance, they obliged, even though they
were two songs past what should have been the set closer, as least in my
opinion. But if nothing else, who can blame them? The band has alot to
learn but fortunately for them, they have alot to work with. If they can
break free of the "Sound Tribe Sector 9-ness" to create something a little
more their own, I would very much look forward to seeing them again. But
the question must be asked, as one concert goer put it on this night, "Is
there room for another "late-night" band?" Only time will tell.

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