Concert review: Lotus

Jam and electronic fusion band Lotus performs at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC.

VIENNA, Va., April, 23, 2012 — It is easy to lose track of time during a Lotus show.  Each song melded into the next and never separated itself from the band’s ever expanding and changing light spectacle that accompanied the band two part set.  There was never sense of when one song would end and another would start to the point where it wasn’t quite clear if the idea stopping ever crossed Lotus’ collective mind.

Their show at the 9:30 Club, aside from what turned out to be a relatively brief intermission, went on for well over two hours.  As soon they came back from their act break, the band and most everyone in the crowd seemed to be unconcerned with time as the show pushed forward.  If not for the idea that at some point they had to stop, Lotus easily would have kept playing until the final audience member drifted off to sleep at the venue.

At first glance, it’s hard to figure a band like Lotus even exists.  The two major components of the band’s musical ideology, being a jam band and involving heavy doses of an electronic band, seem to clash, at best.  For starters, jam bands tend to have an earthy and an almost inherent granola feel to them.  Jam bands tend to tout themselves has organic in most senses of the word and there’s a lot of truth to that.  Everything jam band’s stand for tend to have an organic feel, from their methodology to their instrumentation to their overall make-up.

Electronic bands on the other hand is in essence the antithesis of that notion, employing an almost sterilizing effect to create loops, drum beats, and the like without the use of recognized traditional instruments.  Often times it’s seen as the way of the future in terms of music whereas jam bands very much embrace rock and roll tradition.

That’s only on the surface though, both genres musical aesthetics share a lot of common ground and that’s what Lotus gets to at the heart of their sound.  Their lack of any sort of vocals just puts a far greater focus on the similarities between the two genres.

The implementation may be different but the result is similar.  Lotus plays a style in their live show where riffing and improvisation is paramount, neither of which are unfamiliar aspects of either jam bands or electronic bands to an extent.  The end result isn’t as important as the process of how the band gets to whatever that end result is, and for a band like Lotus that process is an attempt to be as trippy as possible.

Lotus’ attempt with their live show isn’t to ramp up the crowd or to even really get them excited.  In fact that doesn’t seem to be purpose of their music in general which takes on the form of elevator music of the future.  The effect the band’s winding and ethereal music and the rhythmic light show accompanying them have on the crowd is more hypnotic than anything else.  During the band’s set, especially as the band moved past midnight, the audience’s dancing became almost trance like in its movements.  Eventually didn’t even seem important what Lotus played, so long as they kept up the calm vibe alive among everyone there.

Where Lotus starts out on any given song and its resemblance to their recorded material isn’t necessarily where the band is going to end up by the time the song is technically done.  The general tone and feel of the band is the aspect that will linger with anyone seeing their live show long after they’ve gone home.

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener. Read more of his work in Riffs at the Washington Times Communities.


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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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