Lotus, Best Buy Theater and Knitting Factory, NY- 1/26-27
Photo by Chris Paul
Best Buy Theater, New York, NY – 1/26
Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY – 1/27
In 2007 Lotus was an eight-year-old band, known to a handful of devout fans and an especially large following in Denver. Friends from Colorado had convinced me that Lotus put on a show worth seeing, and in the fall of that year, in a small venue in Portland, OR, I came to know that they were right. Lotus was a live electronic band in the days when the mainstream was slowly being defined by a dull electronic whomp and a proliferation of laptops. They covered Daft Punk that night, and six months later they were back in Portland, selling out a venue twice the size. Later, I saw them play a secret acoustic set at Rothbury and realized that I even loved Lotus during the day. A couple years passed and their Portland venue grew threefold, and Halloween meant wigs, and an all Black Sabbath set.
I saw them for years, and would have continued had their shows, my travels, and fate simply worked out. That being said, I was looking forward to the New York shows, especially after the buzz surrounding their New Year’s celebration in Baltimore. Lotus was my late night-band, the one I might convince my jamband hesitant friends to go see, and whose musical ethos could always be admired. If you bought your tickets early you got to attend the Best Buy show and the much more intimate Knitting Factory the next night for only a negligible amount more ($35 for both). Lotus is constantly reminding their fans the amount of control a band can actually exercise when it comes to their concerts. In 2009 Lotus held the “pay-what-you-want” tour in eight western cities, letting fans literally set their own prices. This time they ensured that loyal followers were treated to a second show at a more intimate venue.
The first night had the energy of a true New York City show. Subway favorites Moon Hooch opened and, although they were certainly good, their two saxophones and drum kit left me anxious for more instruments to be added into the mix—mostly, I just wanted Lotus. The band opened with ‘Kodiak,’ off their forthcoming album Build, which is set to drop February 19. Highlights of the show included the ‘Suitcases’ played early in the first set, ‘The Surf’—a song I had never heard before—and the ‘Bush Pilot’ encore. ‘Hammerstrike’ and ‘Flower Sermon’ were completely different than the last times I had heard them, but they stood their ground nonetheless. I left that night thankful that the concept of live, improvisational electronic music was still very much alive and well. The amount of lyrics that now comprise a typical show was surprising however, and during ‘The Surf’ I saw someone singing along and was very conscious that lyrics had never been a part of my Lotus experience.
The Knitting Factory was the night to not miss, a fact that was confirmed by the music itself, as well as the fan who tried buy my ticket for a seemingly excessive $200. Lotus opened with ‘Massif,’ another song off Build. In fact, most of the new album was played throughout the night, with newer numbers alternating in an even flow with the older material. Lotus operates on a really interesting plane, where they feel less like a band made up of individual musicians and more like a cohesive unit, sound and experience. ‘Slow Cookin’’ seemed the undeniable highlight of the second night, though I have always been partial to ‘Sunrain.’ That song sandwiched the second set, with ‘Juggernaut,’ the debut performance of ‘Another World’ and ‘Through the Mirror’ making up much of the meat of it. The encore was my favorite moment of the weekend. I had to ask the guy dancing next to me what the song was called, but I could have asked anyone. He told me ‘Marisol’ instantly, and confirmed what I had been seeing all night: Lotus’ fan base is devoted, ever expanding and very much intact.