Lotus | 02.21 & 02.22 | Chicago

Word by: Avant "Brent" Chikado | Images by: Chad Smith

Lotus :: 02.21.10 & 02.22.10 :: Schubas Tavern :: Chicago, IL

Lotus :: 02.22 :: Chicago
The last four times Lotus has come to Chicago they've played to sold out crowds at the Park West twice and to near full houses at The Vic Theatre. So, calling their recent two night stand at the 175-person capacity Schubas intimate might be a slight understatement. Wanting to reward their fans with a rare event, Lotus chose to forgo the traditional tour off days of Sunday and Monday. Guitarist Luke Miller explained one of the motivations behind the smaller shows was to allow fans to "see how we set up our pedals, or how we play a certain part bringing a different element than at a larger venue." Cramming their massive lighting rig and abundance of gear onto Schubas' tiny stage, Lotus enthused the sold out crowd in a unique way.

Sunday night, the show got off to an early 7 p.m. start. A snow-covered crowd gently packed the cozy music room, and like an extended family gathered for a reunion, the energy was comfortable, welcoming and tinged with anticipation for bliss and vigor to come. Starting with the deep-funk of "Tarasque" (with Notorious B.I.G. samples) and the seldom-played "Evergreenery," Lotus eased into this special two night stand. Keeping the first set crisp with crowd pleasers like "Lucid Awakening" and brand new song "Harps," the band masterfully set the atmosphere.

The second set was classic Lotus. Besides the special treat of "Umbilical Moonrise," a sort of musical group hug from the band to the fans, the set was dripping with the consistent, post-jam sound the band has perfected. The monster segue of "Travel" > "It's All Clear To Me Now" > "Scrapple" typifies the range of sound and quantum of proficiency that drives Lotus. With each member layering in their parts, the amalgamation amounted to a kaleidoscopic soundscape. Closing the night with an exploratory, uplifting "Bellweather," night one possessed some unique moments.

Lotus :: 02.22 :: Chicago
"We really took chances on the improv level, doing things we haven't before," says Miller. "Sometimes if you don't have the pressure of rocking it for 1500 people maybe you feel more relaxed about going for something which you don't know if it will work or not. Then we try to bring that atmosphere back to the bigger stages."

The second show at Schubas came on the heels of another treat for Lotus fans. The previous night, one of the band's side projects, Ghost Stepper, played their second concert ever to a rowdy late night crowd at Kinetic Playground - another gift from the band to their Midwest fans.

Riding high off the energy from night one, Lotus used the first set of their second night to offer up a unique musical experience. Playing only songs from the post-rock genre, the band mixed their own works like "Disappear in a Blood-Red Sky," "Cain & Abel" and "Marisol" with covers from groups that have influenced them. Playing Trans Am's "Obscene Strategies," a thunderous and emotive "A Three-Legged Workhorse" by This Will Destroy You, and "Seneca" by Chicago's own Tortoise, the band even broke out some vintage equipment, including an MPD-40 drum machine and a Stylophone. Miller found the set to be a particular treat and said, "Doing a whole set of one style brought a totally different vibe to the room." This slight departure from a typical Lotus set left fans both in awe and curious for what the second set would hold.

Starting the second half of the show with the groove oriented "Modicum," Lotus then dropped into an hour of floor-burning material including plenty of fan favorites like "Tip of the Tongue," "Greet the Mind" and "Juggernaut." Lotus ended their two nights at Schubas with a spirited encore featuring a jumping "Bubonic Tonic" segueing into a "Shimmer & Out" that had everyone in the venue dancing wildly, arms in the air, smiles plastered across our faces.

Lotus :: 02.21.10 :: Schubas Tavern :: Chicago, IL
Set I: Tarasque, Evergreenery, Suitcases & Sandwiches > Contagion > Suitcases, Harps, Lucid Awakening
Set II: Molluskunk, Comptroller, Umbilical Moonrise, Travel > IACTMN > Scrapple, Spiritualize
E: Bellweather

Lotus :: 02.22.10 :: Schubas Tavern :: Chicago, IL
Set I: Disappear in a Blood-Red Sky, Blender, A Three-Legged Workhorse*, Obscene Strategies^, Cain & Abel, Seneca#, Marisol, Destroyer, In An Outline
Set II: Modicum, Tip of the Tongue > Dowrn > Tip, Bush Pilot, Greet the Mind, Plant Your Root > Juggernaut
E: Bubonic Tonic > Shimmer & Out

*Debut, This Will Destroy You cover
^Trans Am cover
#Debut, Tortoise cover

Download songs from this show here.

Continue reading for more pics of Lotus in Chicago...

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