February 19, 2009
February in Memphis, and the past few years, that’s meant one thing – Lotus. Like clockwork, the band from Philly has played a show in Memphis several years running. On the 2009 stop, the band moved from Newby’s, where they’d played the last several years, to the brand new building in town, Minglewood Hall.
Lotus was the second band to take the Minglewood stage, and they set the bar for future music on the stage fairly high. There were some sound issues that come with a new building; the curtains that will be hung from the wall to baffle the sound haven’t been installed yet, so some of the percussion reverberated through the room. However, the crowd either didn’t notice or didn’t care, because it was clear that everyone in the room, from the band to the fans, was having a great time.
Lotus came on after the opener, the DJ group Orchard Lounge, who spun to a fairly empty room. It’ll take Memphis concert go-ers a few more times missing the opening act to learn that when the building’s management prints "Show at 8" on a ticket, they really do mean the show starts at 8 PM. By the time Lotus hit the stage, though, there were several hundred fans ready to her them break in the new venue.
The band opened with a great "Lucid Awakening," and by the time they got to "Age of Inexperience," the room was bumping. Jesse Miller’s bass thumped the song’s theme, and Lotus did what Lotus does: set a really thick rhythmic groove for Mike Rempel to pepper with his guitar leads.
These guys really do defy categorization. They’re electronica, sure, but they’re also rock and roll and jazz, which is really what sets them apart from other acts they get compared to.
Take a song like "Bubonic Tonic," for instance. Luke Miller’s synthesizer on the song surely implied a more electronica feel, but Rempel’s guitar lines were pure jazz. The song stretched past the ten minute mark, and had the Minglewood inhabitants dancing the entire time.
"Mikesnack" showed off a different side of the band – the rock and roll edge spurred on by Luke when he takes his hands off the keyboard and applies them to his guitar. With two guitarists, one pushing the other, Lotus is at their best.
The song of the night was definitely "Spiritualize." The band really let loose, creating a mind-bending, free-spirited danceable groove that took the fans to the place they came in the door hoping to find.
The band left the stage after a cohesive "Flower Sermon" that saw percussionist Chuck Morris get a chance to shine, and came back to encore with a great "Sunrain > Intro to a Cell > Sunrain."
All told, Lotus did what they came to do – they took the stage, layered their instrumental sound to create one tidal wave of music, and made the people dance. When you buy a concert ticket, that’s all you can ask for, and the band delivered.
Click the thumbnail for more from Lotus at Minglewood