Lotus | 03.15 – 16.2013 | The National, Richmond, VA

 

 

L O T U S

3.15.2013 – 3.16.2013 | The National, Richmond VA

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Lotus gives fans what they want on a beautiful St.Patty’s day weekend in Richmond, VA filled with love, light, smiles and even some frowns (all of pure joy of course). Fans, friends, family and loved ones gather for a weekend of musical exploration…

Photos and words by: Justin Ciccone

 
It has been just over a year since Lotus last rocked out at The National in Richmond, Virginia. And on March 15th and 16th of this year, they came back for a two night run. Having sold out nearly every show on their recent winter tour, the weekend in Richmond was no different. Lotus, coming off a two week tour break, and never having a two night slot at The National, was ready.IMG_2377_514x600

Friday night’s opener, The Werks, really laid the foundation for the night, busting out an awesome segue; ‘Galactic Passport’ into a Steve Miller Band cover of ‘Fly like an Eagle’ back into the former, allowing Chuck Morris from Lotus to stand in on percussion until the end. A short set consisting of only six songs left the crowd on a high note; ready for those Lotus vibes. Lotus then came out, in a way I kind of expected, with a ‘Bush Pilot’ opener, a song that has been road tested and worthy of both opener and encore slots. The guys really highlighted their new album and current projects, playing songs like ‘Middle Road,’ ‘Neon Tubes,’ ‘Debris,’ and the never heard before ‘Different Dream,’ which is a remix of an older song ‘Tarasque,’ a long time favorite, and in my opinion, an under played song. I was happy to hear it.

Fulfilling the desires of many with a ‘Slow Cookin,’ ‘Shimmer,’ and an extremely bright and uplifting ‘Caywood,’ during the encore, Lotus sent us off for the night knowing they were to return for round two. After an insane three song segue that left people shook, and a big part of their recent rotation played throughout the night, many fans were already speculating on what the surprise was going to be Saturday. We were in for something special.

Every fan of live music knows that on these two night runs, time passes quickly and night turns to day before you know it. There’s such a bitter sweet feeling after the show ends, when security begins to usher concert goers out into the street. For me, knowing there is a second night ahead temporarily delays the pain of packing up, saying my good-byes, and heading home. And it leaves a whole night in between shows to hit the hotel, rage or rest–that’s up to you. The sun up comes quick.

As Saturday morning passed by, I found myself waking in a clear, sunny 70 degree day in Virginia. This was a special weekend for Richmond with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner. Downtown Richmond hosted ‘Shamrock-the-Block,’ and the streets were filled with patrons decked out in Patty’s Day attire. IMG_2015-1_600x400Richmond was a sea of green. Long lines as far as the music could travel came out of each establishment. I spent time with a family of friends during the day. Was great, but the anticipation for that nights show was eating me up. A short afternoon rain set in, the perfect excuse to push everyone back inside to really get prepared for the evening. Enough bojanglin’!

As the sun went down, the family of fans began to trek from their hotels and houses to gather in front of the venue once again, some on a crazed search for extra tickets, some looking for a miracle. Dreads, hat pins, flat bills, wraps, all the heady gear you’d expect to see at a festi mixed in with button ups, skirts, dress shoes, jerseys, and baseball caps, showing how diverse the crowd was. Lotus attracts fans from all walks, every one of us looking to get in the doors one way or another. After a jaw dropping show Friday night, no one really knew what exactly was about to go down, and Lotus’ two night runs have been stellar as of late. Perfectly mixing selections from their new album, ‘BUILD,’ which was just released February 19th, along with fan selected classics from years past. Also, they blended fresh samples of their new project, which incorporates various hip hop artists ontop of remixed tracks, an album believed to be called ‘Monks,’ that should be released later this year. At first I was thrown off by these hip hop tracks, it is not the Lotus I’m accustomed to, however, the more I listen to them, and see how the crowd reacts to the diversity of that sound, they have grown on me.

Saturday night, The Former Champions landed on the bill as the opening performer for Lotus. A local band from Richmond, VA that have really built a regional yet still growing fan base, recently landing  festival gigs and headlining many smaller venues on the east coast. Once they finished their opening set and Padge (Lotus’ sound engineer) took the stage for final checks on all the gear, the crowd was almost shoulder to shoulder, the rail completely full with IMG_2415_600x400eager fans waiting for that specific opener. We all have one. The lights dropped one last time, and then boom- the music started. Honestly, I was looking for a ‘Spiritualize’ opener, instead ‘What Did I do Wrong’ got us all ready for the one of the best set-lists of the year. Even as a well versed fan of Lotus, I try not to pick apart set lists while at their shows. It’s about the relationship between the crowd and the band, and by the time Lotus made it into the second set, the crowd was completely entranced and flowing with every note. After teasing us with a super funky ‘L’immueble,’ ‘Spiritualize’ segue, they busted into one of their newer hip hop jams to reach everyone in attendance. Lotus brought everyone together and leveled the playing field between concert goers. The music had taken control. Stopping briefly, as if they knew when the crowd needed a breather, for a few adjustments, before jumping into a jam that seemed never-ending. A segue packed full of awe-inspiring music from the heart of each and every one of them. The energy generated between the band and the crowd if harnessed, could have lit up the world. Seamlessly jamming from song to song, trading smiles—having fun, knowing they’re killing the jam scene!

The energy generated between the band and the crowd if harnessed, could have lit up the world. Seamlessly jamming from song to song, trading smiles—having fun, knowing they’re killing the jam scene!

Lotus shows have a spiritual, crowd connecting vibe that seems to over-power the individual egos present at their shows. The National was no different. As I cruised around taking pictures, I witnessed hugs and smiles being traded from front to back, strangers becoming neighbors with mere handshakes and ‘hellos.’ Amazing jams kept everyone moving, even in the balconies where seating was located. No one was still. And if the music didn’t capture your attention, the lights did, which are an ever changing complex display composed of thirty or so moving L.E.D lights spotlighting the artists, and scanning the crowd in every color scheme imaginable. Recently, they’ve added six LCD light boards, referred to as light-henge, a nick-name to an older, yet infamous set up used previously, which consisted of four rather than six pillars. Throw some smoke in that mix and you get some serious eye candy.

IMG_2073_400x600Lotus has changed, musically, quite a bit over the years. Evolving individual styles, additions to their gear, and the transition to more a electronic sound rather than the organic, innocent tunes from Lotus’ past prove they plan to stay a constantly growing musical force, breaking genre limitations and intriguing a very diverse fan-base, and with a music catalog dating back to 1998, and their continued evolution as artists, they have the ability to engage first timer concert goers, while also embracing their past for the fans that have been around through the years.

For those unfamiliar, Lotus consists of five members: Luke Miller on keys and guitar along with his brother, Jesse Miller on bass and sampler. Luke also writes the set-lists, and the brothers are credited with most of the composition. They are the driving force behind what Lotus is today. Third Co-founder Mike Rempel stands out, to me, as one of the best guitarists of our time. Maybe it’s the very distinct sound that, much like a voice, he creates on guitar, or it could be his drive for perfection whenever he plays. Either way, whenever he gets a chance to solo, it’s always the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. The three of them are matched up with two very technical musicians, drummer Mike Greenfield and hand percussionist Chuck Morris, both really are masters of their craft and have built set-ups with a vast variety of components, allowing them to really contribute to the improvised jams and amazing song segues.

Earlier, I mentioned Padraic MacQuillan (Padge). He is their production manager and monitor engineer, on stage with them every show, just out of view, connected via radio communicating with the band directly, allowing Lotus to adapt not only instrumentally, as the show progresses, but also in quality of sound. You can see Jesse and him really working together to perfect the levels of bass. Which I’m sure is a blessing for Jesse, because he plays with a variety of effects and samples. MacQuillan has been on board with Lotus since 2008, touring with them all over the country and overseas, as far as Amsterdam and Japan. No doubt a big part in how successful Lotus is during their live performances.

Lotus concerts are selling out faster and faster in 2013 than they ever have in the past. Two day passes to their upcoming shows at Mr. Smalls in Pittsburgh sold out in less than 48 hrs of being released. Keep up to date with Lotus at their website, www.lotusvibes.com, for the latest news and tour dates. They have shows in Arizona, California, and Colorado in the next few weeks. And, having announced Electric Forest and Camp Bisco so far in 2013’s summer festival circuit, a lot of Lotus fans are anticipating the announcement of SummerDance Music Festival at Nelson Ledges in Ohio, called ‘their festival’ in years past,IMG_2245_600x400 with them performing two nights. A lot of fans were disappointed because Lotus missed last year’s SummerDance. I suggest you keep an eye out for future dates as their shows in 2013 have been amazing. After New Years Eve shows, I thought I had seen the best Lotus ever, but, once again, they proved me wrong. Lotus plays through-out the year, so I’m expecting them to make their way back to the east coast this fall after the festival season.

As for The National, every time I visit that venue I’m pleased. The pit is spacious, allowing for a sold out crowd to move to the music without fighting for space. There is fairly comfortable seating in the general admission balcony, if you need to get off those dancing feet. You can also get access to the VIP balcony, lower opera style balconies hang over the crowd for those close, yet intimate stage right and left views, and the views are amazing. The seating is not bolted down, giving you that extra leg room. Bathrooms were easily accessible and lines were short. Security is thorough and abundant, but courteous none-the-less. Beverages were fairly priced, not sure about water because I used the water fountain. Overall, I enjoyed my time there this weekend, shared many amazing, memorable moments with friends from all over. If you didn’t see us this weekend, keep an eye out for Festival Footprints, we’ll take your picture!

 

 

 

 

 

3/15/2013- The National, Richmond VA

   SET 1-  Bush Pilot; Middle Road; Shimmer >Dm > A > Slow Cookin > C > Eb >We are Now Connected; Guilded Age; Different Dream;128

SET 2-    Ashcon; Wax; Debris; Plant your Root> E > Moonset > Greet the Mind; Neon Tubes; Age of Inexpierence

ENCORE- Caywood; Hammerstrike

 

3/16/2013- The National, Richmond VA

SET 1 –  What Did I Do Wrong ; Nematode; Break Build Burn; Expired Slang; Sid>Suitcases;                      Blacklight Sunflare

SET   2- Kodiak; L’immueble>C > Spiritualize; Cannon in the Heavens; Juggernaut> E > triplet> Through the Mirror > B > Flower>Sunrain ending

ENCORE-  A 3 Legged Workhorse; Intro to a Cell

High quality copies of this year’s tour recordings available at www.livedownloads.com

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