Lotus | 09.24.08 | New York

Words by: Greg Gargiulo | Images by: Brad Kuntz

Lotus :: 09.24.08 :: Mercury Lounge :: New York, NY

There's a certain sense of privilege associated with witnessing a musical incident for the absolute first time. A freshness of sorts, not necessarily in the fact that you're seeing and hearing something before others, but in the feeling associated with knowing that your ears and the ears of those around you are fortunate witnesses to groundwork being laid down for exponential future expansion. Such was the case for the 200 or so lucky compatriots at the compact Mercury Lounge, where Lotus presented a first-listen sneak peak of Hammerstrike (arriving October 14 on SCI Fidelity) in its entirety. Planting the holographic seeds of an LP with stunning potential and the detectable pliability of major advancements to come, they tended to each new addition with careful attention and precision, the initial, introductory phase of the innumerable performances time will eventually put into motion.

Characterized by a bounty of dueling guitars, experimentation with pace changeups and well-placed effects, Hammerstrike's versatile collection appealed to a number of emotions and spun a variety of sensations, from the pedestrian to the everyday, like cruising the open road to the highly celestial and cosmic simulation of galactic flight - all this range, and yet all still highly danceable. Returning to their proclivity towards vocals heard briefly on 2006's The Strength of Weak Ties, the new album features an even greater lyrical presence, dispersed mainly by guitarist-keyboardist Luke Miller through the use of a vocoder. The new tool was spotlighted most prominently in what has already become a welcome segment in their rotation, "Bellwether," which was strong on futuristic keyboards, stinging guitar riffs from Mike Rempel and, of course, just the right amount of cowbell. The distorted vocoder lines that repeat themselves throughout "Bellwether" - "Out with the old, in with the new/ Bring no regrets and start anew" - have a definitive, though somewhat ambiguous air about them. On the sarcastic level, they can be pointing out technology's endless cycle of replacing the fairly modern with the most up-to-date, or they can literally be saying adaptation in our time is completely essential (hence the now-ubiquitous robotic voice device). Keeping an incredible balance between traditional routes of rock, funk and jazz and splicing it with electronica through the judicious usage of digitized beats, loops and samples, Lotus is composed of pioneers pursuing both paths, leaving such phrasings entirely open-ended.

Jesse Miller - Lotus
According to Jesse Miller (bass, samples), Hammerstrike is the compressed result of a sizable load of songs Lotus has been piecing together for over two years, chopping it down over time and landing on ten structurally diverse, lucidly rich numbers they felt strongest about. "Invincibility of Youth" displayed this concept perfectly as the dual drum action laid out what appeared to be a tempo-slowing breather, but soon enough, dashed into a pulsating jam of a different color, with a jubilant, bubbling procession underlined by the bouncing of Chuck Morris' bongos. Morris flexed his percussive prowess on "One Last Hurrah" as well, keeping a tribal current going in one of the wildest inceptions of the night. "Hurrah" was like a flavor-packed taste of organized chaos, with each Lotus member hammering away his respective duties and enlivening the contents between the brick walls, only further conveyed by the aggressive lighting direction that frenetically flashed around the packed confines.

The first track on the new disc, "Behind Midwest Storefronts," driven passionately by Rempel's dexterity on guitar, evoked a sense of unyielding pride and confidence, something of a patriotic anthem that ambitiously states that which we cherish most. Whatever it may be. "Modicum" was a bump-and-shout throwback, soulful and relatively straightforward, the unaltered vocals reminiscent of early funk, but with plenty of openings that will definitely be maneuvered more down the line. "Age of Inexperience," on the other hand, which has also been making its rounds during the summer, has already taken on a refined character of its own. Rempel and Luke's dual-action strings wrapped around Jesse's bass like garish pieces of ribbon about a maypole, alternating at times and synchronizing at others, then eventually managing to take the lead in two divergent directions, only to reunite right back at the very start.

Hammerstrike's title track exemplified the more aerial side of the new assortment. Resounding in what felt like a stellar flare, the flight course was set by Jesse's extraterrestrial samplings and continued to accelerate through even more guitar solos and an ever-increasing drum participation defined by Steve Clemens' pace regulation and his thundering crashes and splashes. As they performed both sides of the upcoming release, from the gravity-bound to the gravity-free, Lotus took care of the directions and left it up to those traveling to merely hop in.

As if the first-time-ever debut wasn't enough, a second set that was brief on quantity but appreciatively superfluous on substance followed. "Did Fatt," with its reggae flavor and jungle-esque effects, connoted the movement of a primate making his way up a rainforest tree in efforts to reach the canopy, which, as all jungle folk know, is the true party zone. Once up there, things got a bit more out of control than the jungle floor, and measure-by-measure electricity was added to what had become a happening primal ecosystem. With spirits by that point at an extreme high, the segue into "Wax" fit the mold ideally. The oddball whimsy and rolling generator beats, touched further by the versatile percussion presentation and gritty organ work, did amazing wonders as it continuously transferred back and forth between its two main sections. Somehow Sonic the Hedgehog battling the loony Dr. Robotnik immediately came to mind.

The lack of encore, though moderately disappointing, was more than justified by the extraordinary introduction to Hammerstrike and a dominating second set. Always big on Lotus' menu, "Flower Sermon" resonated proportionately by Morris' mallets dancing on the xylophone and the peaking guitar licks that hinted at a possible "Umbilical Moonrise" or "Sunrain." A robotic "Bellwether" tease could also be detected in its latter portions, perhaps as an allusion to the role these new songs will begin to serve as they mature, finding their place amongst the others with the exposure they deserve and will undoubtedly come to receive. After all, they've only just begun to sprout.

09.19.08 :: Mercury Lounge :: New York, NY
Set One: Behind Midwest Storefronts, Age of Inexperience, Hammerstrike, Bellwether, Modicum, Invincibility of Youth, One Last Hurrah, Alkaline, Turquoise, Disappear In A Blood-Red Sky
Set Two: Flower Sermon, Did Fatt > Wax, Jump Off

JamBase | Worldwide
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 10/7/08]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



fatsean Tue 10/7/2008 12:10PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

lotus is the greatest band ever...the new cd is different but still very good, more of a rock kinda feel. i've heard a lot of hate on it but not ever cd they come out with can be another nomad...

ScIFreak starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 12:12PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


LOL Glassworks!! If I'd have all these instruments I'd sell them and go on tour! Lotus is a lot fun got to see them eight or nine times and always thought they were great! I even liked some of their shows better than the last sts9 show I went to.

if rhymes were valiums... starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 12:17PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

if rhymes were valiums...

well written, great photo's.... enough said

fatsean Tue 10/7/2008 12:19PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

ps about sonic the hedgehog listen to bubonic tonic...the guitar riff is straight out of the original sega sonic....bubonic sonic bitches

dsawthestone starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 12:24PM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


just saw these guys again last night at the canopy club in urbana. absolutely fucking rockin! looking forward to the new disc....check these guys out if you have the chance!

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 12:53PM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Really diggin 'Hammerstrike.' Looking forward to the Eugene show!

crobb1011 Tue 10/7/2008 01:09PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Dsaw was that you gettin down like a clown at the canopy?

bigota star Tue 10/7/2008 01:12PM
Show -24 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
leepnstof Tue 10/7/2008 02:27PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Go to a show, you'll be addicted. See ya'll in Penn State.

john706 starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 02:29PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Awesome show. check out some of the videos i took at this show.


insignia starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 02:42PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAA 2 nights of lotus comin up

RambleOnShelbyRose starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 03:47PM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Saw these guys in troy, saw them in burlington, the entire troy show was balls to the wall raging, and the same goes for the second set of burlington. They seem to have just made a genre of music that is kind of like electronic-disco-funk-jazz-(and)fusion(to tie it all together). sick

DubSaw starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 04:40PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I was very ashamed of myself the next day after the show. It was on my a birthday and what i remember was great until i decided it was a great idea to light up a stoge between the first and second saet and get my ass kicked out. Im an asshole. but hey at least im not as pathetic as blunts n bisco.

DanOh starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 04:52PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Tons of Lotus tour dates coming and album next week:

10/7/2008 | Columbia, MO, The Blue Note, with special guest Elastik Soul

10/8/2008 | St. Louis, MO, Old Rock House, with special guest The Egg

10/9/2008 | Omaha, NE, Slowdown, with special guest Somasphere

10/10/2008 | Denver, CO, Ogden Theater, with special guest BLVD

10/11/2008 | Ft. Collins, CO, The Aggie Theatre, with special guest BLVD

10/14/2008 | Flagstaff, AZ, Orpheum Theater, with special guest BLVD

10/15/2008 | Solana Beach, CA, Belly Up Tavern, with special guest BLVD

10/16/2008 | Hollywood, CA, The Roxy Theatre, with special guest BLVD

10/17/2008 | San Francisco, CA, Great American Music Hall, , with an-ten-nae

10/18/2008 | Eugene, OR, McDonald Theatre, with special guest BLVD

10/22/2008 | Minneapolis, MN, The Cabooze, with Family Groove Company

10/23/2008 | Madison, WI, Majestic Theatre, with special guest Family Groove Company

10/24/2008 | Milwaukee, WI, Miramar Theatre, with Family Groove Company

10/25/2008 | Chicago, IL, Park West, with special guest Family Groove Company

10/26/2008 | Grand Rapids, MI, The Intersection, with special guest Garganta

10/28/2008 | Columbus, OH, Skully's, with special guest Papadosio

10/29/2008 | Cleveland, OH, House of Blues, with special guest Papadosio

10/30/2008 | State College, PA, Lulu's

10/31/2008 | Philadelphia, PA, Theater of Living Arts, with Grimace Federation

11/1/2008 | Washington, DC, 9:30 Club, , with special guest Orchard Lounge

11/2/2008 | Richmond, VA, The National, with special guest Freepeoples Frequency

11/3/2008 | Roanoke, VA, The Jefferson Center w/ Freepeoples Frequency

11/5/2008 | Charlotte, NC, The Neighborhood Theatre, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/6/2008 | Carrboro, NC, Cat's Cradle, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/7/2008 | Asheville, NC, The Orange Peel, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/8/2009 | Athens, GA, The Georgia Theatre, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/9/2008 | Charleston, SC, Music Farm, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/11/2008 | Jacksonville, FL, Freebird Live, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/12/2008 | Tallahassee, FL, The Engine Room (formerly the Beta Bar), w/ SeepeopleS

11/13/2008 | Oxford, MS, Proud Larry's, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/14/2008 | New Orleans, LA, Tipitina's Uptown, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/15/2008 | Austin, TX, Antone's, with special guest SeepeopleS

11/26/2008 | Lancaster, PA, Chameleon Club

11/28/2008 | Pittsburgh, PA, Mr. Smalls Theatre

11/29/2008 | New York, NY, Fillmore NYC at Irving Plaza

12/30/2008 | Boulder, CO, The Fox Theatre

12/31/2008 | Boulder, CO, The Fox Theatre

oboyler Tue 10/7/2008 06:49PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i'm still beatin myself up for not being able to find the fuckin domes at rothbury. im gonna make it up at some point hopefully.

SlaveTotheDarkStar Tue 10/7/2008 07:13PM
Show -11 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
RambleOnShelbyRose starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/7/2008 08:36PM
+9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Ummm, i may not be extremely bright but i think you just inferred that one must use the chemical mdma to really like this band. I love phish, but i don't like any fans that seem to feel that they have this natural superiority over other bands. This band is really good, they more than most other bands seem to have simultaneously formed traditional jam and electronic music, not as a band in general but many of their songs journey back and forth using all styles available to them.

totalot Tue 10/7/2008 10:04PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
SlaveTotheDarkStar Tue 10/7/2008 10:27PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
phreak89 Tue 10/7/2008 10:45PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I was debating with myself whether or not to go to the show at the Aggie in Ft. Collins this Saturday and this article convinced me to go. Haven't heard the new album yet but sounds like it will be a good way to spend my Saturday night.

bigfro Wed 10/8/2008 03:48AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



Please go out and see a band live before you judge how good they are. I used to HATE the dead on tape, but then I saw them and got what they were about. Just because your too old to go see any band that doesn't have a chair is no reason to be condescending. I'm old and I don't need a chair, so chin up.

snausages Wed 10/8/2008 05:23AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


love lotus. :D

ScIFreak Wed 10/8/2008 05:36AM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


"She saw them in boston like two weekends ago, and said it was the best concert she's ever been to. Clearly she hasn't seen a Phish show" Well I know a lot of Kids who only saw Phish in 04, and of course they loved the scene and music. But If you want to be truthfull the Music was mediocre at best. To much distortion on Trey's guitar, slop fest infested jams. Lotus has yet to have such slop-fests.

FreshFlavor starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 05:56AM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Lotus is where its at this fall. It really doesn't get much better than a Lotus dance groove going full tilt. Thanks for the review.

okalrightic starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 06:05AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Lotus brings crazy heat! Cant wait for Halloween and the 9:30 club!

okalrightic starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 06:06AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

great review by the way!

Parsonsgoggles starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 07:42AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


More interesting than STS9 at this point, go LOTUS!

chesirecat3 Wed 10/8/2008 08:11AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I went to the Mercury, Troy, Burlington and Boston. My cousin was the Banana at the Boston show. Their new album is def really good, different, but still builds and peaks you in the face. Out of the 4 shows. Troy was unbelievably good, and for anyone who was there. Those lil blue Medical wonders....enough said

cmac712 Wed 10/8/2008 09:48AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

very pumped for the milwaukee > chicago > grand rapids shows.....i think this new cd could translate very well live and im excited as hell to see it. lotus dance party!!!!!!

farquha starstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 10:05AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

first off, some people's comments on here are just plain stupid, like the first one. Great, you like PHish, and you're also an idiot. that is just a stupid comment. Granted I love phish and will be going to every show I can, but I'm not mentioning how great they are when this is a review of the new album and debut show. But whatever, they're always haters, which I myself am at times. Anyways, Lotus is the f*cking bomb. It is about time that they start their own festival!! I would love to see that happen this next year. And I am psyched I get to see them twice this weekend and twice for new year's. There aren't many other bands besides bisco, cheese and phish that I would like to ring in the new year's with, but Lotus is def. one of them. Hope everyone enjoys the new tour. By the way, that second set looks like fire!!

shaka1 Wed 10/8/2008 10:34AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Headn in to the orpheum in flagstaff on tuesday the 14th for my fifth lotus show. Those guys know how to chew me up and spit me out. Cheers to the new album

fishbone1 starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 10:41AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Oh man, the Canopy show was soooo much fun. There were a couple down points in their set, and when they left the stage before the encore, some people headed out. Otherwise, it was all a big dance party, with crazy lights and awesome music. I'm really digging this band right now. After Lotus' set at Canopy, Rempel did a sick jam on the small stage with the opener, Zmick. That guy almost sounds like a synth when he's rippin it up on guitar. Mmm, that Zmick set was trancy. Gotta love it.

mike_ruth07 Wed 10/8/2008 11:53AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


granola Wed 10/8/2008 01:49PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Lotus is the shit!

FunkLizard starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/8/2008 07:47PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Halloween is gonna be NASTY!!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/9/2008 04:56AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

I liked Lotus from the very first album, I knew they had created something special, much in the way that sts9, dead, phish, and wsp have.

its all good music, a little different, but for the TRUE jamfan, its ALL GOOD.

PooDolla Thu 10/9/2008 12:39PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I can't wait to see these guys. It will be my first time seeing them.

johnnygoff starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/13/2008 08:20AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


"after all...they've just begin to sprout."

ya know, I would fully agree with that closing statement. While Lotus may disagree because they've been around for a lot longer than people think...I do think their best work is ahead of them. "Hammerstrike" is a perfect example of their evolution. A lot of 'bands' in the jam or livetronica genres REFUSE to change. I think Lotus has made a conscious effort to not change, but rather EVOLVE as a band. I think, like most great musicians, they don't want to be labeled as jam, dance, techno, fusion, etc....________________well, what's the best way to avoid those clingy labels?_____________________________evolve musically. gO loTUS!

Fluffhead35788 starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/13/2008 01:23PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


WhosScottMDoses starstarstarstar Fri 10/17/2008 06:44PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

im a phish head but i love lotus... lotus shows are dance parties, phish shows are schwill fests.... i enjoy both!!