With their 11/2/07 performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg—which used to be the hipster haunt Northsix, but was bought by the Bowery crew and transformed into one of the most promising new venues in New York City—Lotus demonstrated yet again their commitment to continued growth and development.
The Juan Maclean—aka John Maclean, formerly of electo-rock outfit Six Finger Satellite—opened with a wholly satisfying hour-long DJ set, seamlessly constructing and deconstructing a contoured web of house, disco, post-punk and techno, all laced with well-placed samples and funky breaks.
Kicking off the first set with “Bubonic Tonic,” Lotus got off to a sluggish start, as each band member looked around for someone else to take the lead. After a few minutes of lazy execution, bassist Jesse Miller—who has become the band’s de facto leader—locked in a deep house groove, at which point the rest of the band fell in line. The song ended with a decent tension and release jam, featuring a stronger rock element that would continue throughout the show and would prove to be a potent new ingredient that blends well with their heavy trance fusion. With a more pronounced rock tone on his guitar, Mike Rempel took a more active role, inserting a few blistering solos into his usual fluid playing.
The loping, percussive funk of “When H Binds to O” followed, and it quickly became more aggressive than the album version, ending with a Rempel-led, climax-heavy rock jam. After a fairly straightforward “Flower Sermon” and a solid “Alkaline,” the first set ended with an above-average “Tip of the Tongue.” Along with the more assertive playing from Rempel, the first set demonstrated another positive progression in the band’s sound: the integration of the drums and percussion. Rather than merely embellishing the primary beat from drummer Steve Clemens, percussionist Chuck Morris and keys and synth player Luke Miller continue to fill the spaces in the rhythm, providing a tight, layered groove.
A surprise cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” began the second set, and they took it into some interesting territory before exploding the set into a raging dance party, featuring “Plant Your Root,” “Hammerstrike” and the set-ending “Intro to a Cell > Umbilical Moonset > Intro to a Cell.” Again, Miller simply took over, laying down a thick, dirty groove and dropping bombs, à la Mike Gordon, throughout the second set. “Nematode” served as an enjoyable encore to an excellent show.