Lotus charged through Charlottesville last night and threw down a hot and sweaty dance party at the Satellite Ballroom…a perfect show for getting a little silly for my birthday. As a result of that b-day silliness, I’m not feeling especially ‘eloquent,’ but I thought I’d at least give a review a try…
I haven’t given Lotus a solid, full show viewing for a few years now. So I was pleasantly surprised to see just how far this band has come since I first saw them at the tiny Boulevard Café in Chicago (back in 2003-2004). Needless to say, this band has really matured. They’re confidence is palpable and their playing is tight.
Lotus’s bread and butter has always been creating perfectly danceable electronic improv, with equal parts funk and jazz. Lotus is unembarrassed by the jamband label. They seem to happily embrace it, knowing that the right concoction of dance beats, funk throwdowns, and Anastasio-esque guitar riffs tend to please the jam masses. And judging by last night’s reception in Charlottesville, the masses love Lotus.
The sold-out Satellite Ballroom and was packed to gills, creating a hot and sweaty atmosphere, and a vibe that was ‘pure dance party.’ At times, the dance floor erupted with fans ‘po-go-ing’ and pumping fists.
For me, Lotus’s sound and the all-instrumental approach has always tended to make a lot of their songs meld together in my head. At times, the jams get are almost too guitar-driven, which always made me think Lotus might benefit from adding a few extra keyboards, or gasp, even a laptop into the mix.
But just when things were starting to sound a bit too stereotypical jamband, Lotus threw in a few nice surprises. They dropped a more straight-ahead rock tune in the second set. It was a tune that I could imagine some indie instrumental band trying to emulate for the hipster crowd. Sure, it was still instrumental, guitar music, but it was more concise and a nice break from the upbeat white-bred funk. It was a nice change-up, but Lotus knows their audience craves the dance beats, so they flipped a switch and turned on the disco funk, complete with the disco ball mood lighting taboot. The place blew up.
The crowd wasn’t about to let them leave without an encore, so Lotus delivered with the patented happy techno of ‘Shimmer and Out,’ sandwiching the darker Umbilical Moonset. It was a nice way to cap off a raucous night of live music. It was also a great way to celebrate my b-day trying to convince myself I can still party with the youngsta’ jam kids. Good times.
Setlist (via the Lotus Fan Forum)
02/08/2008 – The Satellite Ballroom, Charlottesville, VA
1: Jam > Nematode, Contagion, Turquoise, Tip of the Tongue, Plant Your Root > Dub > Wax
2: Comptroller, Hammerstrike, Greet the Mind > Marisol, Jump Off*
E: Shimmer and Out > Umbilical Moonset > Shimmer and Out
*Crosseyed and Painless tease