Concert Reviews

Flying Lotus at the Ogden Theatre, 10/18/12


The Ogden Theatre was hit last night with the bowel-shaking earthquake that is Flying Lotus, who opening his set with a sample from Lil Wayne's "I feel like dying." While we didn't check with every single person, we're pretty sure the bass-emitting frequencies from the subs sent shivers down everybody's spines. The hairs in our nostrils tickled with the altered sound waves, and all in all, we were all unprepared for what was about to happen: Low End Theory meets Denver.

See also: Flying Lotus on how J Dilla really did change his life by making music that was deep and heartfelt

Flying Lotus, at least on his last appearance in Colorado for the Bassnectar Red Rocks run, didn't play anything remotely similar. This night was dedicated simply to his skills, dedicated to showcasing who and what Flying Lotus really is and showing Denver what real live production is in its finest form. Steven Ellison is birth name of the artist, and although Denver is the proverbial hot-bed of EDM right now, we were all taught a serious lesson in just what should go into an EDM show.

Ellison approached his projection screen sandwiched table rocking a studded medieval balaclava, like something straight out of Robin Hood. Two projectors sat on the stage pointed directly at a large white translucent screen that essentially acted as the perspective of the visuals. A back screen provided the depth of the projections, and the illusion at times was that we were zooming down rocky well before slamming into an organic flowing wall of seaweed. In its subtlety, the visuals were the perfect balance of the music, which, of course, was the reason we were all there to begin with. Flying Lotus's production proved that less is more in an era in which artists can't get enough moving cans, lasers and smoke machines.

The defining characteristic of this set, the thing that definitively set it apart from almost every other show we've seen this year, is the fact that it was entirely produced on the fly. There was no pre-arranged set, and there was no pressing play and letting the tracks fall in place. There was only Flying Lotus, with his extensive catalog and the tools of the trade he uses to create his masterpieces. He teased multitudes of tracks, notably "Ni**gas In Paris," "Intergalactic," a little sample from "Mortal Kombat," and a wealth of Weezy.

He also threw out a birthday wish to Thundercat, and even played an untitled track of his forthcoming album, a cut with the hook of "I'm On Ecstasy," that came with a plea: "Don't go bootlegging this and puttin' it on YouTube. This is for your ears only." Flying Lotus's gratitude was obvious, and the show went about as smoothly as a show could go. There were no train-wrecked transitions, nor were there any of the standard dubstep tracks. Flying Lotus is a masterful producer capable of reading a crowd and feeding them something they didn't even know they were hungry for. At the end of the night, we were all left satiated.

Teebs and Jermaine Jae opened up the night after a special impromptu set from JPS. The openers did just what they should, which is prime a crowd with easy the groove BPMs and nothing over the top sound wise. JPS bounced in some reggae, followed by Jermaine Jae, who provided some Mos Def style lyricism, and then Teebs brought the swanky downtempo lounge feel. It was the perfect way to feed the anticipation of the headliner, and proved that much thought went into this lineup and show.


Personal Bias: My favorite moment at Bassnectar this past summer was when Flying Lotus announced, "I know you kids are all about the drop. I'm just not into that shit." And he shouldn't be when his music is flowing for the entire set.

Random Detail: Jermaine Jae reminded me of old Mos Def in his style.

By the Way: The bass during Flying Lotus's set was the hardest I've felt in a long time -- comparable to Excision's massive 100,000 watts of sound.

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Britt Chester is a writer and video producer living in Denver, Colorado. He's covered breaking news, music, arts and cannabis for Westword since 2010. His work has appeared in GQ Magazine, Village Voice, YES! Weekly, Inman News and the Winston-Salem Journal. He likes running, cycling, and interviewing people.
Contact: Britt Chester