Lotus, Boulder Theatre, Boulder, CO – 4/4-6
Photo by Michael Urban
Lotus warmed up the crunchy city of Boulder, Colorado, putting on three outstanding performances at the Boulder Theatre to close out their winter/spring tour. Emotions were raw and high, and it showed in their music; the quintet plowed through set list after set list of fan favorites and unbelievable, intense jams. No stone was left unturned and after a week of purely Lotus it took a few weeks to dust off the dirt and collect my thoughts. Coming from a fan who has seen the band roughly 50 times and was present at 15 shows this year alone (including the first five of the tour), this was simply the best I have seen these guys play. Lotus proved that a beautiful concert has little to do with the tightness of the performance but rather the intensity of the vibe between the band and the crowd, which in Boulder, was incredulous.
The authentic and comfy Boulder Theatre provided an excellent backdrop for the weekend, with artwork on the ceilings and walls and close proximity to the band due to an unusually low stage and no photo pit area. The intimate interactions as a result of this closeness resulted in an extremely powerful display of energy from the crowd and the band itself, and even those in the balcony in back (which also looked like a legit party) could feel the heat.
It’s extremely hard to sum up the best of a weekend such as this, with so many amazing songs, segues and jams. Not one was short of incredible, and all three shows encompassed my favorite songs and left me with my jaw on the floor. Thursday night was filled with fast, high energy songs and blow-you-away segues (including an outstanding ‘Spaghetti’>’Zelza’>’Jump Off’) and I remember thinking how hard it would be to top such a performance. It certainly was possible, because the last night of the run left me in tears and is by far my favorite Lotus show to date. Night two was incredible as well, filled with an array of beautiful and powerful songs. Combined together, these three nights provided a wonderful Lotus experience unlike no other.
The boys grabbed a hold of the crowd with ‘Juggernaut’ to start the weekend off. One of my favorite segues of the weekend followed shortly after with ‘Slow Cookin’’ sandwiched between the two parts of ‘Neon Tubes’. The unreleased ‘Debris’ (one of my newest favorites) cranked up the heat, especially during guitarist Michael Rempel’s impressive solo toward the end of the song. Just as ‘Wooly Mammoth’ got my heart soaring with its touching melody the band fixated on pulling our brains apart with a staggering ‘Greet the Mind’. Other notable moments included a sexy slow jam at the end of ‘Nematode’, a filthy ‘Dowrn’, and aforementioned ‘Spaghetti’>’Zelda’>’Jump Off’.
Night two was a much different experience – it was a night for the beautiful side of Lotus to shine. If a ‘Spiritualize’ opener doesn’t say enough, perhaps a set list including ‘Grayrigg’, ‘Behind Midwest Storefronts’, ‘Shimmer and Out’, ‘It’s All Clear To Me Now’, ‘Umbilical Moonrise’, ‘The Oaks’ and ‘A Three-Legged Workhorse’ will. The energy in the crowd wasn’t diminished, rather more concentrated on the band and their performance. There certainly was a lot less bouncing off the walls and each other, perhaps because many of us were four nights deep into Lotus’ Colorado run – however, we welcomed the fatigue as it was rewarded with the simple pleasure of seeing so many familiar faces. There certainly is something to be said for the recognition of another fanatic; there are fans, and then there is a growing bunch of us that would travel to Pluto and back to see Lotus and show our undying support for these amazing musicians.
I also noticed a couple of repeats from the Aspen show – the boys did not repeat one song over the course of their three nights in Boulder, which was impressive enough, but only repeated 12 songs while in Colorado, three of which were played this evening (‘Grayrigg’, ‘Lead Pipe’, and ‘Intro to a Cell’). Night one only had one repeat (‘Massif’), and the remaining eight repeated songs were done on the third night in Boulder (‘Livingston Storm’, ‘Flower Sermon’, ‘Kodiak’, ‘The Surf’, ‘Middle Road’, ‘Harps’, ‘Suitcases’, ‘Harps’, and ‘Bush Pilot’). Surprisingly enough, two songs I fully expected to hear more than once based purely on their crowd reaction value – ‘Wax’ and ‘Cannon in the Heavens’ – were only heard once the entire week. Keyboardist and back up guitarist Luke Miller (to whom the set list writing responsibility belongs) did a superb job with song placement and the amount of care and thought put into choosing what and when to play was obvious.
Moving past the weekend’s statistics, night two included some of the weekend’s best highlights, with a ‘Spiritualize’ sandwich encompassing the entire first set. The first set was filled with new songs ‘Break Build Burn’ off the band’s latest release ‘Build’, ‘Ersatz’, an unreleased song which made its debut this tour (not my favorite) and ‘He Ain’t Well’, a song off their soon to be released hip-hop album, which is the first I have heard that isn’t a remix of a preexisting Lotus tune. The band’s newer material seems to be getting mixed reviews; personally I think a lot of their recent work is fantastic (e.g. ‘Neon Tubes’, ‘Debris’) but the only song played this evening that really captured both the crowd and my attention was ‘Break Build Burn’. And as always, the breezy ‘L’immeuble’ radiated a beautifully warm vibe that had the entire building dancing their asses off.
Set two started off with a gorgeous ‘Shimmer and Out’, followed by an ‘Intro to a Cell’, filled with a contagious energy that really set the stage for the second half of the show. The song really grabs a hold of you with its off kilter guitar melody and Jesse’s bass solo proves that even the simplest bass lines have the heaviest effect. Another song that Jesse really owned was ‘Lead Pipe’, with a jam that always leaves me speechless, taking a few moments to collect myself. Other highlights include ‘It’s All Clear to Me Now’, a song that really allows Mike Rempel to shine as it exposes his diversity with heavy, fast-paced solos and a slower, sexier side. Lastly, ‘Umbilical Moonrise’was a perfect choice for the evening.
Night three of this amazing run was by far the best of the bunch; the set list alone left those at home stung by jealousy but the energy and emotion in the room was unmatchable and really completed the evening. Another of the weekend’s highlights was at the start of the first set with ‘Sid’>’Suitcases’ – one of the best transitions Lotus does in my opinion, and gets me every time. Both songs were beautifully done and well placed as they got the crowd moving early in the show. After getting down to the newly released ‘Middle Road,’ the band got into a funky groove with the recently revived ‘Expired Slang’. After wrapping up easily one of my favorite tunes, they transitioned into ‘Tip of the Tongue’, one of the best highlights of the first set, mainly due to its recognition value and how much both the crowd and band get into the song.
A couple of the best songs from the second set include ‘Livingston Storm’>’Mikesnack’. The romantic downtempo ‘Livingston Storm’ created the illusion that we were all amongst one another in a dream, before segueing into fan favorite ‘Mikesnack’. This was my first time hearing the song live, and what a treat it was! The entire crowd went bananas, and the previously mellow mood shifted to an almost giddy one. ‘Sunrain’ enveloped the last half of the second set, with ‘Flower Sermon’>’Ghosts n’ Stuff’>’Flower Sermon’ sandwiched inside. The song gives me goose bumps each time I see it performed live, and the amount of love it evokes amongst fans and friends is truly heartwarming. Finally, the highlight of the evening and perhaps one of the most emotional songs I have seen Lotus perform was ‘Colorado’ to close out the encore. A number of us were near in tears and the gratitude visible on each of the band members faces was extremely touching. What a perfect ending to a positively wonderful weekend. Overall, the music and feeling of togetherness was unmatchable and I am proud and extremely grateful to have been a part of such a moving experience.