Lotus,The Top Hat, Missoula, MT – 11/9
Photo by Abi HallandLotus brought pure energy through Missoula, MT last week, showing all who attended this intimate and massively entertaining show why they are one of the hottest Livetronic bands on the jamband circuit today.
Prior to their latest album, Lotus’s music could generally be described as a fusion between rock, jazz, funk, and jam. That says a lot about this band, as they incorporate characteristics and playing styles from many different genres and piece them together in a way that creates their own unique sound. Their current self-titled release still has all the elements of what they are known for, but adds a very distinct electronic influence to the mix and has had a major impact on their overall sound.
As the show was about to begin the quintet took their places on a stage in front of an audience of more than three hundred at the Top Hat in downtown Missoula. While they plugged in and tuned up, the gaps in the room were filled with even more patrons- all pushing through the heavy artificial clouds of fog crowding the small venue. Tension thick with anticipation the band dropped into their first notes, simultaneously LED laser lights slice wildly through the hazy atmosphere. The crowd erupted.
If you know anything about Lotus it is that they have built their career by word of mouth. Following in the traditions of groups such as The Grateful Dead and Phish, Lotus helped build their fan base by allowing their live shows to be openly recorded and traded. This closeness between the band and their fans was displayed openly throughout the evening as an almost tangible game of give and take went on from dance floor to stage and back.
Their first song of the evening was a sign of things to come. “Harps,” a song off their new album featured elements of funk and electronica. Bassist Jesse Miller opened the song with some funky bass lines while guitarist Mike Rempel offered some melodic chord progressions. The progressive electronic aspects of the tune were highlighted via the synthesizer stylings of Luke Miller. The back and forth between Rempel and Luke Miller contributed to a spacey almost staccato sound that evoked memories of an old Nintendo game soundtrack.
With Lotus, and particularly on this night, one could never guess what type of song you would hear next. This genre bending group switched between ambient jams and complicated jazz techniques. The third song the group played was “128” and if you weren’t paying attention, you might even think that an entirely different band was on stage. Rempel’s jazz-like guitar phrasing along with very clean tones and the lack of synth or samples created a very different sound than the band’s new material, once again showcasing the group’s abilities to manufacture a wide variety of music yet combining them into a single cohesive whole.
As the show developed Lotus continued to try out a handful of their new tunes, but the majority of this evening consisted of older material, including a few fan favorites. Whether they were playing older songs or the newer more electronic-centric material, the audience ate it up happily and grooved along. As the band wrapped up the show with a double encore, which included 2008’s “Disappear In a Blood Red Sky“ one could detect a definite sense of growth from their Missoula show almost a year ago. Their unique music is captured in their ability to build a full and textured sound that is balanced yet dispersed.
Between the five members, there seems to be no limit on what they can create. The drum section, with Mike Greenfield on the drum kit, and Chuck Morris playing percussion kept a very steady and groove-able rhythm section. They also employed the use of a wide variety of audio samples taking songs into multiple and spastic directions. During the show Lotus thickened their sound by laying down fundamental parts of certain songs and looping them while jamming over the initial song structure. The band also melodically built and released tension through their music and coupled with the band’s exquisite and intricate light show, this was enough, at times, to leave one breathless.