LOTUS @ RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE | 9/8/12
As its just over two-hour set came to a close, Lotus's encore proved there is a special place in the band's heart for Red Rocks. Following the close of "Colorado," the second track in a three-song encore, Lotus opened into "Spiritualize," which is arguably the best way to close one of the best sets the group has ever performed in the box state.
Lotus approached the stage at exactly 10 p.m. and didn't waste any time with getting the party underway. Opening with "Harps," the first of many songs in which Mike Rempel's guitar took center stage (and Luke Miller's skills on the keys showcased the band's blended rock and roll), Lotus' highly anticipated set achieved a good start. Next, "Hammerstrike" proved the perfect segue into the building set with its mellow, guitar-heavy chorus that again showcased the frets of both Rempel and Miller.
When the group launched into "Bubonic Tonic," a soothing track that instantly tamed the crowd filling the steps of Red Rocks save for a few open rows at the very top, the buzzing hive of dancing bodies slowed its roll and dialed into a slower, foot-tapping groove. This led into "Shimmer and Out," which built perfectly on the set and brought the pace back up. The crowd was jumping, clapping, dancing and screaming, and before long, the five-piece band reeled into "Cannon in the Heavens" and "We Are Now Connected." The guitars came in heavy again on "Connected," which steadily built on itself before leading into "Ashcon." Chuck Morris and Mike Greenfield, the two masters holding down the percussion section, carried the beat throughout the night. Without Greenfield ever missing a step, perhaps following the cues of Rempel as he occasionally took a few steps back to control the unique time signatures of each song, the percussion couldn't have sounded better. The group danced outside the lines of its typical song structure to give way to improvisations that spotlighted the members' talent on their respective instruments. "Arupa" really brought out the percussion. The song is fast and melodic, and Greenfield and Morris took the reigns to get the crowd's blood pumping at the close of the set. "Jump Off," a funky groove that Jesse Miller's bass carried, settled things down for the close, but the audience was still far from leaving, and Lotus knew it. The crowd knew it. But, what would they close with? "Kodiak" started off the encore, and while some acts like to take things out on a strong note by ending with an explosive track, Lotus took the road less traveled and helped the crowd wind down. Just as a glowing moon hung in the sky over the stage roof, "Colorado," an obvious selection off the group's 2004 album Nomad, played flawlessly and in full. And while a brief moment passed, the opening notes of "Spiritualize" filled the eager steps between the two most famous rocks in the music world.
As measured in crowd response, this was the most anticipated song of the night. The crowd went insane bobbing up and down with the beat, and the band appeared equally as satisfied. Rempel and the Miller brothers (Jesse and Luke) held gleaming smiles for the entirety of the song, soaking up the final moments of the biggest and best show they've played in Colorado.
Continue reading for a review of Eoto.
Eoto, quite possibly the most "live" group on tour right now, came into their lotus flower stage setup at exactly 8:30. The timing of this set was crucial: The new stage rig has made its way around the country, and with Zebbler running the lights and projections, it's perhaps one of the most original out there right now (You may know Zebbler as the brains behind "The Shpongletron Experience"). Eoto is the culmination of years of experience in percussion. Both Michael Travis and Jason Hann, who are also the mastermind percussionists in String Cheese Incident, have found themselves stuck in a world dedicated to strict improvisation. There is no set list. There is no pre-recorded track. There is nothing predetermined except communication and constant production.
On the skins, Hann is directly synced to Travis, and the two compliment each other perfectly. With a microphone linked to all sorts of effects, Hann sings and yells and loops and distorts his voice, which is layered over the band's live set. The duo burst into "Dangerous," a Busta Rhymes cover, with Hann rapping the lyrics with his own flair added to it.
Eoto has really adapted its live performance to the dubstep world -- not so much catering it, but instead pushing the envelope. Travis dances behind a wall of keyboards and synthesizers, occasionally picking up a guitar or bass to loop in a quick sample, but he always follows the suit of his musical partner. They feed off each other.
This is how an Eoto set works: Travis sets the pace with a beat, then Hann adapts his drum score to the track, then Travis chimes back in with a new cut. It goes back and forth until the two decide to drop a bomb and totally switch gears. Without any sort of formula for a set, an Eoto show can quickly jump from house beat at 115 bpms to bowel-shaking drop on a dubstep beat at 140.
As instructed by management prior to the show and organized by none other than Zebbler himself, a Matrix-style pattern danced on the lotus-flower stage, triggering a slew of fans to pull out some pre-assembled slingshot helicopters. At exactly 9 p.m., the pre-instructed crowd followed the breakdown of the song and everyone shot their helicopters into the air at the crescendo. Glow sticks are cool and all, but who issues helicopters to fire off in sync?
Eoto and Zebbler -- that's who.
Continue reading for a Critic's Notebook and setlist.
Emancipator opened the main stage, and with Ilya Goldberg on the violin, the show began. Starting things off mellow, Douglas Appling, the brains behind the trip-hop operation, never dropped any sort of massive banger. Emancipator isn't about the bangers; it's about grooving along with uplifting beats and occasoonal melodic vocal samples. Goldberg provided an eerie violin on certain tracks, either strumming or plucking his violin along a down-tempo beat. The duo maintains a perfect combination of organic and electronic implementation -- a great pre-cursor to both Eoto and Lotus -- and the crowd ate it up. The filling venue swayed to-and-fro and more or less just enjoyed the backing art of a beautiful Colorado sunset.
Personal Bias: Eoto at City Hall Events Venue for New Year's Eve in 2010 was one of the coolest shows I've seen to date.
Random Detail: The projector gave out a few times during the Eoto set, but the music was so good most people probably didn't notice.
By the Way: Zebbler is a force of light. His vision for a visual production exceeds that of anyone else in the game.
Lotus Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO 9/8/12
01. Harps 02. Hammerstrike 03. Bubonic Tonic 04. Shimmer and Out 05. Cannon in the Heavens 06. We Are Now Connected 07. Greet The Mind 08. Ashcon 09. In an Outline 10. Age of Inexperience 11. Arupa 12. Jump Off
Encore: 13. Kodiak 14. Colorado 15. Spiritualize
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