Lotus Drops Jaws At Sold-Out Performance in Times Square
The Best Buy Theater sits in the thick of Times Square, among a barrage of building-sized, brightly flashing LED screens advertising a slew of products, services, celebrities, events, and programs. However, only one screen mattered the night of January 26. Right outside of the Theater hangs an 85-foot long rectangular high-definition LED screen, one of the largest marquees on Broadway, featuring bright and colorful graphic advertisements for upcoming shows at the venue. The majority of the advertisements on this night announced the coming of the funky genre-defying quintet Lotus, impressively stamped with the bold, red-hued statement: “SOLD OUT.” Indeed, Lotus had sold out the 2,100-person capacity theater before the day of the show, and the Best Buy Theater had published the news on one of the largest, most eye-popping signs in the area. After walking over to the venue several hours before Lotus would take the stage, I stopped for a second alongside Padraic “Padge” McQuillan (Production Manager/Monitor Engineer for Lotus) to take a shot or two of the grand announcement.
Upon entering the Theater, twin escalators led concert-goers to the lower floor, where the doors to the concert area, as well as several coat-check stations, two bars with seating, several lounge areas, and a counter selling beverages, savory snacks and sweet treats (“munchie” paradise) were located. The entire floor was cast in a bright blue glow – so much so that upon leaving the show, walking through the doors leading back to the main area felt somewhat like entering a bright, inescapable blue sea of light. Inside the stage area, there were numerous places from which attendees could view the action on stage whether they prefer sitting or dancing. The bi-level floor was flanked by mini-balconies on either side of the lower floor level. On the upper floor level stood a railing between two short sets of stairs which divided the upper floor from the lower floor. Either side of the upper floor level was flanked by stairs to upper balconies with tables and movable chairs, reserved for those with VIP access. Behind the floor area sat an area with upward-sloping permanent seating, much like a movie theater. Several enormous modern-styled chandeliers adorned with what appeared to be thousands of diamond-like crystal beads hung from the ceiling. Although there were some spots on the lower floor level where the sound seemed dull or dead at times, the acoustics were better than a number of similarly-sized venues in the Northeast (both the Electric Factory in Philadelphia and the House of Blues in Boston come to mind). Although a bit corporate and lacking in personality, the Best Buy Theater overall is far from the worst place to see a show.
Though critics may justifiably disparage the venue for having no charm or life of its own, Lotus certainly brought the Theater to life this past Saturday night. Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who had yet to see Lotus during their recently-launched gargantuan Winter Tour came the second the lights went on. At first, the beautiful lights (superbly controlled as always by Scott Houston) seemed to incorporate the standard light effects, but long-time fans rejoiced once colored beams of light began emanating from the six long rectangular boxes hiding in the shadows of the stage’s backdrop. Lotus’s “Light Henge” (as some fans call it) had returned to the stage in expanded form, leaving quite the impression. At times, the colored lights shining from within the almost-mirrored boxes gave the impression of large panels of stained glass. They added to the already awe-inspiring lighting effects that always grace the stage during a performance by Lotus, and likely were noticed by all in attendance.
1-26-13 – The Best Buy Theater – New York City, NY
I: Kodiak, Suitcases, Middle Road, Bubonic Tonic > Hammerstrike, Age Of Inexperience
II: Grayrigg, Flower Sermon > Ghosts N Stuff(Deadmau5) > Flower Sermon, The Surf, Dowrn, Plant Your Root > 128
E: Bush Pilot
Lotus played a solid two sets with a single-song encore. “Grayrigg,” a post-rock instrumental song that always gets the crowd hyped, included an unusually dark yet delightful solo by lead guitarist Michael Rempel. The boys also threw down a hauntingly delicious version of old-school favorite “Plant Your Root” implementing new samples, in which Jesse Miller (bass/samples) shined. Drummer Mike Greenfield and percussionist Chuck Miller perfectly complemented one another, particularly during a spectacular “Flower Sermon” sandwiched around Deadmau5‘s “Ghosts N Stuff,” and Luke Miller (guitar/keys) showcased his continually evolving skills on the synthesizer in a sinisterly sexy “Bubonic Tonic.” During each and every song, the positive energy in the crowd was palpable and added to the already-upbeat experience.
The opening act also more than deserves mention. Moon Hooch, an up-and-coming three-piece ensemble including a drummer and two saxophonists, played a funky forty-five minute set which defied expectations. Their charisma on stage was the icing on the cake to the unique experience that the group creates, spurring the crowd to move their feet, a feet not accomplished by many opening acts. A cardboard tube was used as a distortion device to create the wompy sounds of dubstep. Normally I’m repelled by dubstep, but I found myself getting into Moon Hooch’s all-instrumental version of it. The group even played a song involving rap lyrics (perhaps the only song I have ever heard them perform with lyrics). The performance definitively showcased their edgy and experimental style. If you haven’t checked out this trio already, commit yourself to doing so.
All in all, this past Saturday was a stellar evening of beautiful music and upbeat energy. To see if Lotus will be playing near you in the future (of which, given the extensive nature of their schedule, there is more than a good chance), check here for the up-to-date schedule including information on purchasing tickets. Additionally, be on the lookout for Lotus’ new album Build, which comes out on February 19.