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Thursday, February 19

Review and Photos: Lotus and Kung Fu - 1884 Lounge - Memphis, TN - February 10, 2015

Photo: Randy Harris
Wow! What a combination! When I first saw the announcement for this bill, I was dumbfounded, and Memphis, Tennessee was most certainly not disappointed. Kung Fu started off the night with an unbelievable style of interstellar, psychedelic funk, as a solid group of fans came out to the 1884 Lounge early to support the opening act. These five gentlemen seem to stop at nothing to push the boundaries of music at its purest form. The band seems to rock and shred so naturally and effortlessly. Each band member was given a chance to show off a bit, including a raging drum solo, but as a whole, the band sounded incredibly tight, working its way through their opening set as a unit. While relatively unknown to the Southeast region, Kung Fu could give the greatest funk bands a run for their money. My only criticism of their set is that it was too short! During the set break, I could not stop thinking that I wish Kung Fu could have played longer, but obviously, that is not up to them. They were up there to warm up the crowd for Lotus, and they did their job well.
Photo: Randy Harris
Then Lotus took the stage, which brought a completely different vibe to the evening, but it segued extremely well. After a relatively mellow start, Lotus brought the energy up exponentially, gripping the eager audience and embarking on a journey through time and space itself. Somehow, Lotus seems to get left out of the conversations about the great jambands. Even I forget, at times, how their unique blend of rock and electronica has the ability to entice a crowd into a blissful stupor. As the band deftly built up their set with all the skill and unity of a seasoned team of nationally touring musicians, the intimate crowd at the 1884 Lounge responded accordingly. Mike Greenfield’s driving drums, supplemented by Chuck Morris’ eccentric percussion, held down the foundation of the show, leading dynamic builds and tactful transitions. Luke Miller switched back and forth between guitar and keyboards, keeping the melodic groove consistently intact. Jesse Miller fronted the center of the stage donning booming bass lines and psychedelic, mind bending electronic samplers. Finally, Mike Rempel shredded lead guitar, another distinct aspect of the band’s sound that sometimes gets overlooked in the aural explosion that results from their voluminous sound. Rempel’s ability to work his way through the composed portions of the tunes with unusual tones and simple but fitting licks, and then completely switch gears and rip through his explosive solo and improvisational sections with an extraordinary mastery.
I must also give a quick shout out to the Memphis fans. Although I feel that the city should be able to have a better turnout, the people that did come out were true fans, eating up every lick and every note the band could throw at them. Also, I could not help but notice that the fans in attendance were more than willing to sacrifice their proximity to the stage for space to move and dance, which is rare at any concert these days. I never felt crowded throughout the entire night and always had room to breathe. Nobody was crashing the stage, and everyone was extremely respectful to one another. Way to go Lotus fans!
After indulging us in one long, continuous set of pure Lotus magic, the band obliged us with a raging encore, which was met with a massive response from the crowd, to finish off the night. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lotus for coming through Memphis. It is truly an honor to see a band that can sell out Red Rocks come to our humble city to honor its extensive music history. What impressed me the most about the show was that, even though the attendance was not as extensive as the band is used to, Lotus came out and gave 100% anyways, showing a true sense of professionalism and love for their craft. Coming up on the band’s 15th year in existence, Lotus continually shows that they will push the boundaries of genre and break away from the expected. To round this review off as simply as possible, if Lotus comes to a city near you, no matter what day of the week, I highly recommend that you get out there and dance your troubles away.
Words: Randy Harris
Photos: Ellis Jones IV
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