Words by: Martin Halo
Lotus :: 11.03.07 :: Bowery Ballroom :: New York, NY
As the stories of rock & roll glory pile up in an overgrown heap and the sunset marks the beginning of another night of musical transcendence, it is the image of New York City that remains the most magnificent. Summer is long gone and the brisk breeze of autumn street scenes has set in. The heroin junkies that littered the stoops of the Lower East Side have long been pushed underground but the culture remains. After performing the night prior across the East River at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Lotus returned to Manhattan Island on the heels of Halloween hoopla.
| Lotus :: 01.27 by Sam Friedman|
Fresh off a Northern Indiana college stint and signed to the Colorado-based SCI Fidelity Records, Lotus has made a name for themselves by cultivating a scene of jam band rock fused with the hedonistic seductiveness of a raging rave. In mythology, both Greek and Indian, the lotus is a plant that yields a fruit that induces a dream state upon ingestion, and in similar fashion the band Lotus unleashed their own form of intoxication upon the Bowery Ballroom.
The band is touring in support of their live release, Escaping Sargasso Sea (May 2007). The floor, which spilled down the back stairwells of the Ballroom, looked more like an ecstasy driven gyration fest reminiscent of Webster Hall. Glowing jewelry could be seen illuminating the audience while watchful eyes gazed down from above.
I had never seen the band live before, and even after an extended conversation with bassist Jesse Miller the night before on the streets of Brooklyn, I really didn't know what to expect. With the project being an instrumental ensemble I was concerned about whether I would see an in-cohesive self-indulgent jam band or wordless, magical discovery. Taking the stage promptly at 11:00 p.m., the band, which is comprised of Miller (bass), Steve Clemens (drums), Luke Miller (guitar, keys), Chuck Morris (electronic-acoustic percussion) and Mike Rempel (guitar), put the freaky lust back in NYC.
| Lotus :: 01.27 by Sam Friedman|
With a double drummer attack of Clemens and Morris, Lotus' sound is a full-figured tonal punch. Basslines hold down the snarl while percussion keeps the rhythm in check. Keyboard lines provide melody while Rempel's screaming guitar licks sends the crowd into hysterics.
With the ballroom raging, the floor was a body of water flowing and churning like a single telepathically connected entity. The only thing keeping the people from mass collision was the fragrant smoke rising from it, serving as an inhibitor and cushion to all the roiling.
The showcase started in a funk-laden groove with hypnotic vibes. Extended jams became soul-sacrificing compositions. I laughed as I watched strangers make love connections in the crowd, sweating as their bodies rubbed against each other, becoming closer in the moment. The set slid gracefully into more dance-driven beats, and what stood out were compositions of unlimited improvisation and manipulation, with each band member adventurously pushing the stiffness out of their parts.
Some of the audience wore dark shades with long, overgrown beards as they swung their heads in indulgent euphoria. Clocking in with two one-hour sets, Lotus convincing dispelled any doubts and not only blew the roof off the Bowery Ballroom but converted a new fan.
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