The Last Stop, For Now: Lotus @ HOB Cleveland [Review]
by Leo A. Jennings IV
Last weekend brought us to the brink of a second consecutive winter tour closer in Cleveland. The variety and intensity of the band’s playing on this tour certainly had the crowd fired up. Starting with their headlining festival, Summerdance, last year, through New Year’s and throughout their winter tour early this year, Lotus has been firing on all cylinders and they show absolutely no sign of slowing down their hustle.
Following Michal Menert and the Pretty Fantastics, Lotus took the stage to warm our hearts and ears one last time for the winter. A screaming, harmonious “Bellwether” kicked off the night perfectly, getting the whole crowd into perpetual motion for the segue into “Slow Cookin’”, the dance-jazz hybrid that will keep your feet moving throughout its deep, swirling jam. Appropriately, funky “Spaghetti” followed “Slow Cookin’” in a song title pun that happened to be very aurally enlightening. The deep, resonant, wah-laden breakdowns of “Spaghetti” gave way to a tempo increase and wandered back in to “Bellwether” to close out the opener to the set. The odd and mysterious tones of “Ashcon”, off the band’s self-titled effort, flowed in next, perhaps just to give the crowd a breath for what was to presented next. The familiar, bouncy rhythm of “Sift” filled the room, and as its tempo progressively increased, so did the intense motion of the crowd, dancing with all our hearts as the jam sped into a radiant “Shimmer and Out” that cemented a smile on every face in the venue. As “Shimmer” concluded, Luke Miller reminded us that Cleveland does indeed rock, and Lotus fed us a bit of the gritty rock n’ roll vibe with a cover of Tame Impala’s “Elephant” to close out the first set.
After a quick smoke and refill for many of us, Lotus commandeered the stage once more to bring us the latter half of the tour closer. Opening the set would be post-rocker “Destroyer”, a multi-faceted tune featuring alternating tempos and an uplifting build with a powerful guitar solo to conclude the song. “Travel” would next take us on yet another improvisational journey, filled with virtuous guitar and synth work that certainly equated to the sonic expedition the title implies. “Travel” sailed into “Hammerstrike”, a hard rocker off its namesake album that once again seemed to melt the faces of the entire crowd. Funky, fun, and new “Pachyderm” was next in the rotation. After first enjoying this live at Ram’s Head earlier this month, the funky synth tones and wildly fun guitar work have simply become addicting to me, and this has quickly become one of my favorite songs to hear Lotus shine on. Billboard single “Eats the Light” would follow, and Lotus again proved to their fans that this is no simple pop tune to turn your head away from, with a deep tunnel of a jam riding through the song that would carry it for over ten minutes. The crowd was then surprised with a rare standalone “Through the Mirror”; drawing large influences from Steve Reich’s adventures in counterpoint, this song is a crowd favorite and always leads to a colorful sonic presentation. The synth pads weren’t let off at the end of the jam, however, and the familiar extraterrestrial nuances of “128” became apparent. “128” led to some amazing guitar interplay between Luke Miller and Mike Rempel, garnished with perfectly tailored percussion work from Chuck Morris. To end the tour closer, the crowd would get its slow-dancer, “Disappear in a Blood-Red Sky”, just to get our emotions reeling before being sent off into the night with a supremely funky “Greet the Mind”, sure to keep excited spirits going well into the early morning hours.
The tour closer in Cleveland proved to be, once again, a rich presentation of sound, light, and love, continuing the trend that follows Lotus, their music, and their fans. At the brink of festival season, and, hopefully, a spring tour, there is no reason to miss a Lotus show right now. With extremely tight harmonies, a gripping sense of melody, and a cohesiveness between its members that is almost unmatched, Lotus is bringing raw emotion, deep sonic textures, and intelligent improvisation to stages all over the country this year. Not getting out to a show would be a huge mistake.