LIVE: Lotus at Irving Plaza

It’s been more than a decade since Lotus first started making music, but I must confess that it’s been a few years since I’ve seen them. The height of my fixation on the electro-jammers from Philly (by way of Indiana) came just as they dropped their third full-length album Hammerstrike at the end of 2008, an effort that sent me diving into their archive to find long-lost live shows and scrambling for tickets every time they cruised through.

That was then. For the past few years, they’ve dropped off my radar, so much so that they even came out with another record – 2011’s self-titled fourth album – that I did not even realize had been released. So when they popped up to play two nights at Irving Plaza last weekend, I started bumping the new album (Spotify saves the day again) and dipping back into the band’s catalog once more.

It was clear by the end of the first set, as Massif wound down to its electric conclusion, that Lotus had not been idle in the three years. I simply slept on them. The light show, which was once boxy and muted, had evolved into a multi-dimensional, dynamic part of the show, adding a new element to their performance. The tight, driving grooves that have long defined their sound were back in full force, but this time around had a elasticity that allowed the quintet to bounce from jam to jam with more coherence, cutting out the dead-end forays of previous years and replacing them with more determined, purposeful adventures. Nowhere was this more evident than on “Tip of the Tongue,” an admitted favorite of mine from 2006’s The Strength of Weak Ties, that bounced off into a massive build before breaking back into the slick, laid-back chorus again, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Lotus, in every way possible, is continuously evolving.

Set List:

1: Bubonic Tonic> Golden Ghost, Ashcon, Livingston Storm, Let Me In (debut), Tarasque, Massif

2: Plant your Root> Tip of the Tongue, Neon Tubes, Moss Shoes> Sabrosa (Beastie Boys) > Greet the Mind, Break Build Burn, Wax

E: Disappear in a Blood-Red Sky, Bellwether> Umbilical Moonset> Bellwether