It was just before 8:30 when Travis stepped into Thundercloud Subs on Riverside drive. “You get a little older, and your friends don’t want to go out to shows as much anymore,” he said as he unwrapped his sandwich. Travis drove in from Houston to be on this corner in Austin this weekend. I drove up from San Antonio. Heads from every which way converged on Emo’s to catch a two night run from genre-crossing powerhouse Lotus. Emo’s was relatively empty for the opening acts, Cloudchord on Friday and Thibault on Saturday. Empty is relative, of course – Emo’s may not be an arena, but it isn’t a tiny dive bar either.
There were still a fair number of early arrivals warming up to the live electronica thumping through the house system. Cloudchord in particular caught my attention. Maybe it was the integration of the electric guitar with the electronic soundscape. Maybe it was the unique take on the Fleetwood Mac classic, ‘Dreams’. Either way, neither Cloudchord nor Thibault played to an empty room, and certainly both gained a few new fans that night.
But Lotus… When Lotus takes the stage, they demand your full attention. There’s no walk-on music. No nebulous wind-up or verbal introduction. There’s just – BANG! And we’re firing on all cylinders. The explosion of sound and color – it lights up your senses like a fork in a wall socket. And it was as if a crowd of people suddenly materialized and crammed up against the barricades, dancing and raging. The energy washed over us in waves, and simmering excitement boiled over into a frenzy.
It had been years since I last saw Lotus in Live Oak, FL, and I was again reminded why they’re so fun to see live. Besides the infectious grooves and stellar musicianship, what kept drawing my attention was the sound. The tones and timbres. The stacked layers of lush thick sound, it does something to people. You can tell by watching them dance. You can feel by being there. The wonderfully synesthetic light show was icing on the cake, elevating the Lotus experience to multi-sensory brilliance. Any town would be lucky to have Lotus for one night in passing. We had two. And if night one set the bar, night two flew well over it. Overall, we were treated to four deep sets, hearing progressive jams and explorative odysseys.
When the final encore ended on the second night at 1:30 in the morning, Emo’s emptied out onto Riverside Drive. Many dallied there, recapping the whole experience. Some tried to catch the tail end of an after-party for a Victor Wooten concert at Empire Control Room. Others, like Travis and myself, had a drive ahead of us. It was an experience – one everybody hopes to have again very soon.