Last month myself and four of the most amazing people I have the pleasure of knowing loaded into my car for a 3 night run of Lotus that spanned Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis. I felt I needed some relief from the academic induced cynicism that brings me deep down in winter and seeing Lotus live is one of the few experiences that I approach with the cozy certainty that I'll soon be rejuvenated after meeting diverse, warm-hearted human beings. I was first introduced to this particular sub-culture by Lotus in 2010, I couldn't help but feel it the closest contemporary parallel to the cultural golden age of the 60's and 70's.
The surface comparisons seem obvious in the endless touring and the unprecedented musicianship so it seemed fair to romanticize it all as such, but truthfully there is no need. Lotus is in itself a culture that encourages the intrinsic luxuries of existence that we often neglect to acknowledge in the day-to-day. While my relationship with the band begun as just another indulgent escape from the apathetic confusion of young adulthood it is now evident that there is so much more embedded in the Lotus experience. At Lotus my ideal self wanders from the confines of my usually judgmental consciousness and sparks thoughtful discussion with anyone nearby; people share with each other devoid of the attachments and concerns that are usually held as if prized family air-looms. Every time there is a serious kid laughing at himself in the corner; a man who's usually afraid to let loose, cathartically dancing uninhibited; women wearing their childhood tutus for the hell of it and of course a particularly exceptional group of men meticulously crafting intricate music, their sounds transcendent of their instrumental constraints. I'm hard pressed to find a more authentic musical experience. There simply is no better band touring today that plays with such precision while sounding so unhinged and free, exemplifying everything I understand a live musical experience to have existed for in the first place.
Earlier last month Lotus released their 6th studio record, Build, which finds the band expanding further from their eclectic origins into a more glossy and cinematic foundation. It's an interesting evolution for the band. Despite a few blatant attempts to capitalize on the dub-step-related success, that contemporaries like STS9 have benefited from as of late, there rests intermittently laced references to their earlier explorations in funk, jazz-fusion and even samba-esque cadences. “Uffi” and “Middle Road” are clear standouts that perfectly encapsulate the bands new-age playfulness along with their fluid understanding of song structuring that allowed them to bubble to top in the first place. Maybe most important and definitively integral to Lotus' success, the new material seamlessly punctuates their older material in their live sets; this being a extremely rare and endearing characteristic that often eludes even the most brilliant of bands.
Lotus represents everything that reminds us that the world is much more fun when you're not in a constant state of cynical analysis. And in a euphoric post concert haziness on the second night this conclusion truly resonated when I found myself next to an elderly bearded man with poor posture and a disheveled, time eroded grin. Shuffling his legs relentlessly and fidgeting with his overly-bulky jacket it became clear he had something important to say but that he was still sorting out what had happened. As the Barrymore Theatre's patrons poured out to heat the chilled streets of Madison I waited patiently, eager for his perspective on the night. Eventually he stammered from beneath his reddish beard:
“What would ya call this music kiddo?”
“Well generally I feel a bit odd about categorizing music, but if I had to I suppose I'd call them an electronic jam band,” I said.
He pondered this briefly and continued after appearing to have accepted my response. We did our introductions, his name was Stu. Stu was a slowed cooked, well done Dead Head who on a whim had decided to venture to the show alone to see what “all the hype was about”. When I asked Stu if he saw any similarities between his time following the Dead and what he'd experienced that evening at Lotus he began rattling off comparisons in an excited frenzy, his lips wiggling as if he were philosophizing from behind a corn-cob pipe. “Oh the atmosphere is most definitely similar. I couldn't go five minutes without being hugged, massaged, high-fived or offered water or beer. There is definitely a palpable love and well-intendedness, there is most certainly something special happening here.” I think Stu just about says it all right there.
Be sure to catch Lotus live, they tour incessantly, everywhere.
Your playlist is lookin' mighty bare, hoss.
Click the '+' and add some tracks.
Click the '+' and add some tracks.
Empty (add some tracks!)