by John Mikeska (welcome back to LMD my brother. So good to have you return to the fold).
Photos by Jon Hildy
In terms of Lotus shows, last Friday night at the Pink Garter Theatre in Jackson Hole was one for the books. During the pre-show ramble, I encountered a considerable amount of first-time patrons as well as some road soldier/tour-esstrians (see what I did there). This made for an awesome crowd combination that brought a certain astonishment to the excited exuberance you often find among the peaks of a Lotus show.
The second song of the evening, “Blue Giant,” saw the band settle into their space with guitarist, Mike Rempel, easin’ on in through cozy scratch funk and melodic subtleties that gave way to OG fan favorite and foxy motif of “Wax.”
Another road tested song, “Mikesnack,” made a huge impact in the first set. Mike “the melody master” Rempel was inspired this night, linking beautifully with guitar/keyboard extraordinaire Luke “the knife” Miller for the reciprocal guitar riff that opens this epic tune. Transitioning from funky, rhythmic driplets, Rempel came in and wiped the floor clean with a searing guitar solo.
The man can funk it up, break it down, and explore the space with exceptional style & taste.
Signaling a depraved descent to the depths of groove based explorations, they cohesively peeled back the layers of the jam to reveal an elemental funk. Locked in and traveling as one, they flew together towards a double-time tempo shift and key-change that rocketed the improv to the outer-reaches. Followed by the chordal punctuations and live-production of “Harps” & “Anti-Gravity” > “Sunrain” closed out the first set to a pulsating audience.
The vibe at set break was one of frenetic comfortability. The audience was buzzing yet entirely settled in with band; setting the stage for an exceptional Round 2.
Percussionist, Chuck Morris, started “Jump Off” with a round of babbling bongos that gave way to dazzling jazz lines effortlessly oozing from Rempel’s six-string. Arising from syncopated exchanges between guitar and keyboards, Rempel took off on a modal-based improvisational tear that would turn the head of the staunchest theorist. Segueing into the “Zelda Theme,” I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the “Aha!” moment, and geeking out with a Lotus virgin who experienced this awesomeness for the first time.
Back into “Jump Off” through a communicative jam-structure, Rempel proceeded to obliterate the ceiling on the shoulders of a heavy, weighted groove.
I can think of no better example from the show than “When Our Nerves No Longer Twitch” from their latest album, Eat The Light to express the relevant, inspired evolution of Lotus’ sound.
Moving on to the lilting dreamspace of “The Surf,” gorgeous synth lines coalesced with soaring, reverberant guitar that lead into the scratchy wah-wah known as “Sid.” The delicious envelope filter work made this seductive groove a well-timed offering late in the second-set. Precise, triplet based motifs and timbale punctuations drove it home to the dancey vibes of “Intro To A Cell” to close the set.
The Lotus experience is a journey through emotive forces ranging from heady jazz vibes to the snarly grind of a depraved dance party. This full-spectrum sensibility and the thematic transitions through which they navigate their musical universe facilitate a connection between artist and appreciator that is unique and refreshing. The feeling of traveling with the band from effervescent melody to high-gear trance groove sends you through the ringer by night’s end.
Turnin’ on dimes and melting minds, their terrestrial percussions and celestial melodies come in waves of tasteful builds and chaotic crashes.
The sonic-evolution of this band provides ample reason to pay attention to their continued development. Many thanks to the band, the production crew and staff at the Pink Garter Theatre for bringing together this reinvigorating live-music experience.