By: Casey Jones
On a cold, February night in the college town of Madison, Wisconsin the Barrymore Theater was the place to be. At first glance I thought I had stumbled into a movie theater circa 1953 (they literally served popcorn at this place). Once I stepped foot into the main room I quickly realized it was 2013 and Lotus was in the middle of throwing it down. Every jam band knows that if you’re going to come through “Madtown” you better come with it hard or don’t even bother coming at all. Lotus got the memo.
Even though we were a tad bit late, it seemed quite appropriate that we were greeted by “Greet the Mind”. The classic track from the even more classic album, Nomad, always gets the crowd going (as does every track from Nomad. Followed by that was a new song, “Debris”. It was only the second time the band had performed it live but you could hardly tell. The new tune could be described as “funktronica”, blending elements of dance, rock and electronic to create a song that really only Lotus could make. “Debris” should definitely stay in the rotation. “Through the Mirror” was next. Having just been brought back into the rotation about 2 weeks before (the song hadn’t been performed live in over 4 years until then), the very spacey track started off nice and slow then quickly picked up the pace and ended with a massive build up that led right into “128”. The first set ended with “Gilded Age”. You’d be pretty hard pressed to find a song that sounds more like classic American rock & roll. After the first set was over I looked at my friend with pure glee as she said in amazement “They just played like 7 different genres.” And that was just the first set.
The second set opened with the very upbeat “Shimmer and Out”. You could see the smiles and feel the good vibes all around during this very happy song, which was highlighted by Luke Miller shredding his guitar en route to the climax. “Cutinuo” followed and was much more on the electronic side. As one of the tracks on the new album, Build, it’s always very interesting to see how a song from a new album will translate live. You could definitely tell that this was new Lotus but it was greeted very nicely by the fans and received a solid ovation afterwards. Lotus continued to change up the sound as “L’immueble” was next. This was definitely the biggest treat of the night as everybody in the Barrymore danced with a little extra funk in their step. There was no time to stop dancing as Lotus took us directly from funky town to the church of funk. “Flower Sermon” is another classic that fans always go crazy for and honestly it’s hard not to go crazy when a song features a xylophone solo. About 8 minutes in, a very familiar combination of guitar strings were being played and it was evident that the moonset was upon us. The fellow groover next to me leaned over and asked if they were leading into “Sunrain” and I replied “nope, it’s umbilical!” He looked me dead in the eyes and summed up the entire night in one statement… “Shit’s about to get real.”
They then brought it back into “Flower Sermon” with incredible ease, making it sound as if they just jammed out one song for 17 minutes. Speaking of playing 7 different genres, “Another World” was next. This remix of “Dowrn” featured some dope, original rhymes from Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious). It was another new song that was greeted kindly by the fans. Look for that to be featured on the hip-hop album they have in the works. “Age of Inexperience” closed out the second set with very high intensity. If Lotus had decided to end the show right there, everyone still would have left saying they had a great time.
The encore featured 3 songs. “Ashcon”, another song off the new album, it features some nasty wobbles that prove Lotus can play just about any genre of music and have people get down on it. The very melodic and beautiful “Caywood” followed, this song glides so softly and smoothly, giving you the feeling of pure elation that can only be achieved through something you love. “Blacklight Sunflare” finished the show with a bang. Once that unmistakable intro hits, you know you’re in for a wild ride and this ride was the grand send off. It was an appropriate way to end a night that had the perfect mix of favorites, new tracks and bust-outs. As the people dispersed everybody was in the best of moods and went home knowing that they got a great show from a great band. Rage On Lotus, Ray John.