Sunday Funday, Lotus Style: Lotus New Year’s Run, Philly Leg
Lotus returned to the band’s hometown of Philadelphia for two nights to start off its 2014-2015 New Year’s Run at the Electric Factory. While the musicians brought their A-games for both evenings of music, their second night suggested two theories that would pique the interest of any serious Lotus fan. Whether or not one agrees, the argument surely can be made, and this past Sunday serves as solid evidence.
1. Never underestimate a “Kodiak” opener
I won’t lie; I’m not the biggest fan of “Kodiak.” A newer song off one of the band’s more recent albums, Build, the song is heavily electronic and is not one during which Lotus finds itself going into extended jams. “Kodiak” is just one of those songs that, even when impressively performed, sounds very similar to the album version.
However, I’ve noticed that this song often signals that some serious fire is on its way. So when those first notes of “Kodiak” cued to begin the first set on Sunday, I couldn’t help but smirk at the thought of what was ahead. Long-shelved rarities brought back into rotation over the past several years peppered the entire New Year’s Run, and during this set the beautiful and infrequently played “Kalea” made its first appearance in several years in January 2014. Featuring organic instrumentals, the uplifting tune gives each of Lotus’ five musicians the opportunity to shine brightly – an opportunity which was seized emphatically by all on this particular night.
The set hit a high during a phenomenal segue from the spacey vibes of “Travel” into the sexy funk of “Opo,” which one longtime fan referred to as “aural sex.” It peaked yet again with a killer “Suitcases” sandwiched within a “Shimmer and Out” to end the set that had the room ablaze with dance. Guitarist Mike Rempel’s fingers may as well have been on fire throughout, and guitarist/keyboardist Luke Miller led a synth-heavy transition much like a wave washing over the crowd back into a “Shimmer” ending with the highest of energy. It’s hard not to break into a Cheshire Cat smile after a set-ending sandwich like that.
I’ll say it again: Never underestimate a “Kodiak” opener.
2. Never miss a Sunday show
So there’s this oft-repeated mantra (heard most often in the Phish and Widespread Panic communities) that you should never miss a Sunday show. It can be difficult to swing a Sunday show when work responsibilities often loom the following morning, but if you are lucky enough to make it happen, the payoff may be worth it. A recent example: Phish’s “Tweezer” set – one giant segue that repeatedly returned to the band’s much-beloved classic track – at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland last July.
I couldn’t help but think about this unwritten rule when Lotus took what could have been a standard, well-done, two-song segue and turned it into an hour-plus set-dominating segue that included dark and mysterious rarity “Did Fatt,” the return of the band’s long-shelved cover of Daft Punk’s dance-inspiring hit “Around the World,” and tear-inspiring fan favorite “Umbilical Moonrise.” “Did Fatt” in particular saw the band in top form, with an impressive auditory assault by the combined forces of percussionist Chuck Morris and drummer Mike Greenfield and their quick-handed, elaborate beats. The band inspired a deep range of emotions over the course of the final three songs, providing for a more-than-satisfying and deeply meaningful finish to the second set of an extremely well-executed night of music.
It may be a Phish thing. It may be a Panic thing. But last Sunday night it was a Lotus thing. Sometimes you just wish you hadn’t missed that Sunday show. I am pretty damn thankful I didn’t miss this one.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Sensible Reason’s coverage of Lotus’ New Year’s Run – a review of the band’s New Year’s Eve performance at the National in Richmond, VA is soon to come. You can also check out the album of photographs from the show, shot by our own Eric Madar, on Sensible Reason‘s Facebook page once it goes live – keep an eye out for that as well!