Cleveland Rocks, Lotus Style
Written By Leo A. Jennings IV
Cleveland has constantly demanded good live music. Between a history of hosting legendary acts (i.e. Pink Floyd), to producing amazing talent (no references needed), to being home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland is a staple on the tour circuit, no matter which way you slice it.
Even with these daunting precedents, Lotus came to town to tear the roof down, and they executed their task this past Sunday. Still reeling from an absolutely amazing night in Columbus, I entered the House of Blues with plenty of butterflies trying to escape my gut.
Broccoli Samurai, as always, warmed up the night with class and style. This band is an amazing act coming up in Northeast Ohio, and have been touring for quite some time. Talented gentlemen whose only concern is the boogie. I don't see how that's EVER a bad thing.
As the lights turned down, and everyone knew Lotus was about to take the stage, "the tingle" arose in the room, just as it has so many times before. Lotus has a certain energy amongst its most devoted fans; something you just "know". It certainly isn't something that will be explained here. The lights kicked on. "Harps", off the self-titled album opens the show. A great show opener with a vast amount of energy and jam space. Sid>Nematode>We Are Now Connected came next; two classics followed by a cover. Nematode stuck out especially to me. Drummer Mike Greenfield's playing was some of the tightest I've ever heard, and lead guitar player Mike Rempel explored depths that took me back to the band's 2002 Founder's Brewery show. Driving that energy straight into Mord Fustang's "We Are Now Connected" was the perfect way to bring the several close and new friends together to get down. Fan favorite "Caywood" followed this long, beautiful segue. While always a favorite of mine, the hit shed no light on what came next.
"Mikesnack" cued up as the beauty of "Caywood" faded into the distance. As a guitar player myself, "Mikesnack" has always been a favorite of mine. I love playing it, I love listening to it. The band executed it perfectly. The jam drove straight into "Tip of the Tongue". Out of nowhere, the tempo had increased and the whole room grooved hard into it. Tip turned into a dance party quickly, and Jesse Miller easily took that jam for himself, absolutely slaying the bass during the improv section of the tune.
Set break, and we were back in. "Break Build Burn" is always a great set launcher. While the album it comes from gets a bit of heat from the old school crowd, I think this track in particular retains and speaks for the band's constant evolution. "Blue Giant", a classic, and one of my favorites, was to follow. Musically one of my favorite Lotus tunes, and one that attracts several new fans. This song really does speak for itself, especially if you take the time to decipher the samples. A rare "Comptroller" was to follow. Luke Miller launched into one of his infamous vocoder sessions during this jam. The next track to come up was Kalea. I have a very personal connection with this track. There are several very deep and binding memories I tie to this song. It has become exponentially more emotional for me to hear this song, and this time was no different. I won't bother you with the details, except for the fact that I was in tears the whole time Lotus played this to us.
MOVING ON ;)
The first chords of Flower Sermon were played. I bolted to the front of the upper balcony. Yet another fan favorite, but never losing its luster. Apart from an awesome extended jam on the Handsonic from Chuck, lead guitar player Mike Rempel made use of the elusive E-Bow on this particular jam. The E-Bow is an electronic pick of sorts, allowing for a violin/synth treatment of the guitar. As the Flower Sermon ended, I could sense something cooking in the air. A few guitar licks later, the crowd was swept up into the deepest Did Fatt I've heard since Summerdance in 2013. And it just kept building. And building. And suddenly, as we were swept up in a VERY intense jam, things cleared up, Greenfield hit the crashes and slowly but surely, the crowd found themselves in the midst of a wonderful Umbilical Moonrise, an absolute fan staple and a song I've been lucky enough to catch on several occasions.
Moonrise always brings the night together. Hugs, tears, and slow dance moves always accompany this track, no matter where in the world you may find yourself listening to it. As the tour came to a close, and we ushered the band onstage for just one more, we were lucky enough to get two, the first being the always feel-good "Cloud 9" off of Monks, featuring Ras Arcane on the rhymes, and, what a better way to end this tour with its namesake, Gilded Age. Always a high-energy and positively charged song, Lotus blasted the last of their energy from this tour into this track, and let us dance and vibe just one last time.
There really is nothing like Lotus in the flesh. It's not something I attempt to put into words. One simply must be there, and formulate their own description. After several shows on this tour, I must say the band is on an upswing like I have never seen since I have started following them. Catch Lotus in Charlottesville, VA next month for 2 shows that are guaranteed to be amazing, including one date shared with The New Deal! Much Love Y'all! :)