Lotus Celebrates Nomad at Mr. Smalls

first_imgOld Lotus Vibes, New Lotus Times– Erik JacobsonIn 2004, Lotus recorded their debut studio album Nomad at Mr. Smalls Funhouse in Millvalle, Pennsylvania; a small town just outside of Pittsburgh. The album features 9 tracks of the more jazzy, funky, atmospheric side of Lotus that many diehard Lotus fans like myself grew to fall in love with. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the historic venue, Lotus was booked for a two-night run. The band announced that on the second night, June 8th, they were going to recreate Nomad in its entirety. Wait, a sold-out 650 person capacity venue, my favorite band, and they are playing my favorite album? Sign me up! This show was sure to be one for the ages.The first set began with “Break Build Burn”, a track off of Lotus’ latest album Build. The sold-out crowd began to get down to synthesizers and horn samples from the group Rubblebucket. Next came “Middle Road”, a funkier song off of Build with smooth percussions from drummer Mike Greenfield and a funky bass-line and vocal samples. Out of Lotus’ newer material, this one features more of an improv section which allowed Mike Rempel to show his shredding ability as a guitar guru.Newer material continued to be the trend for the first set. I couldn’t help but smile during “The Oaks.” This song makes you feel all happy and bubbly as fans became a little lighter on their feet. “Debris” followed as Luke Miller laid down some spacey keys. This track featured some improvisation that was very different from anything ever heard in previous live versions of this track; a lot of crazy sounds and transitions from being electronic driven to guitar driven and back and forth. “Ashcon” followed, showing the more electronic, dubby driven sound that Lotus has evolved to over the years.The next song was “Intro to a Cell”, one from Lotus’ earlier days coming up in the scene. This one was a HEATER! Jesse Miller came out with some funky J-Bass jams and got the crowd grooving as Chuck Morris demonstrated his fluency on percussion and kept things going. Chuck was on point in this one, laying down percussion that was more than just fun to dance to. The first set ended with “Baby I’m Yours”, a cover by French producer Breakbot. Luke sang into a vocoder to recreate the lyrics as Lotus added their touch to the song. This was a good cover to end the first set.Now, the moment that everyone had been waiting to see. Everyone knew Lotus was going to play Nomad in its entirety, but no one was sure what way they would go about doing it. Everyone was happy to hear the second set open up with the first song on the album, “Suitcases.” You could feel the energy in the room as Lotus fans celebrated the arrival of Nomad. This guitar driven track was a nice change of pace from the newer, more electronic driven songs of the first set.A beautiful segue of the next three songs on the album would follow. Luke took a minute to explain how they wanted the drums to sounds like they were coming from further away during “Livingston Storm.” Out of all the songs from Nomad that were played, this version sounded the closest to the studio track. This would be the start to a very peaceful, relaxing song with guitar riffs from Rempel that put you in a meditative state of mind. The improv during this song took me to a different place, it was dubby at times, spacey at times, and was driven by guitars, eventually leading into “Spiritualize”. This song is a fan favorite, the name speaks for itself; providing a feeling of complete and utter bliss.Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better the band began to jam even more taking that spiritual feeling and breaking it down with wicked percussion, keys, heavy bass, and piercing guitar riffs. Out of this came “Plant Your Root”, and after even more jamming and improv the segue ended back into “Spiritualize.” And then things got really out of control. As Luke explained how the vocal samples from the song were recorded by Chuck, you could see a feeling of Love from the band members that I hadn’t seen in recent shows. You can’t spell ‘Lotus Vibes’ without ‘L-O-V-E’. This left fans a feeling of overwhelming joy….the funny thing was that the album wasn’t even half way through yet!A more down-tempo song, “Travel”, came next, which was played into “Greet the Mind” a funky-ass song that does an excellent job of switching up the tempo when one would least expect it. The next song began with Rempel playing a melodica, a wind instrument that one might describe as a combination of a keyboard and flute. He played this to start “Ball of Energy” a song that all Lotus fans know is a very rare one to get at a show.“Jump Off’, one of my personal favorites, followed and shows the jammy, wackier side of Lotus. This one had fans going hard, constantly changing up the mood and sending fans through the highs and lows of many different emotions. “Colorado” ended the set, a place than any nomad would love to call home. This peaceful, melodic utopia of a song left many fans with tears of joy. There was nowhere else in the world that any of us in attendance would rather have been. This was the icing on the delicious Nomad cake that Lotus had baked for us.The encore featured a new hip-hop song titled “Cloud 9.” This track is a remix of Lotus’ “The Surf” and features lyrics from MCs Ras Arcane and Cee Knowledge. “Behind Midwest Storefronts” would be the last song of the show. A really uplifting song with a post-rock feel to it; this guitar driven beauty was a perfect way to top off the night.Lotus has shown us that their sound has evolved into a more electronic direction, away from their more jazzy, funky, roots of the early days. We made the journey to Mr. Smalls to see that beautiful, jazzy, funky, atmospheric Nomad that we fell in love with. And what we got was that and so much more. We got the peaceful vibes created from Nomad and the high energy electronic elements in the improv of these songs. Lotus wanted to show their fans the direction that the band is going in, but at the same time wanted to show them that they haven’t forgotten about where they came from and why many of us fell in love with their music. This show was a near-perfect blend of old and new Lotus, and it will be a night to be remembered for years to come.[cover photo courtesy of B. Hockensmith Photography]Lotus from Mr. Smalls:last_img

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