Lotus: A Park City Live Review

When there’s nothing happening in Salt Lake City, it’s often worth checking up on SLC’s smaller neighbor, Park City. While packed during the Sundance Film Festival, Park City has a toned down local feel for the rest of the year. With the size of city being so small, it’s surprising that it still manages to pack a strong punch when it comes to booking top quality bands. Park City Live is a concert venue in the center of historic Main Street. Their Winterfest concert series helps people like me who dread the winter to have something to look forward to during the year’s darkest months. This year the venue booked current big names like Major Lazer and Marshmello, but also has some more eclectic picks ranging from Bluegrass bands to Reggae in the lineup. No matter what your tastes, its likely Park City Live has booked some serious talent within your favorite genres.

Last Saturday the venue hosted Lotus, a band formed in 1999 that has since been heavily touring venues and music festivals across the country. They’re pioneers in a genre best labeled as “jamtronica”. A mixture of classic jazz band jamming and improvised electronic music. The combination of the two leads to a unique sound and a wide range of tempos from get up and dance or sit back and chill.  While the band worked as a well-oiled machine with each musician playing off one another, the guitarist Michael Rempel really stood out. The riffs he provided often brought the funk to their songs, getting the greatest reaction from the audience. Near the end of the set the band played their song Greet the Mind, during which Michael’s playing brought the filled venue to a state of boogie.

The crowd Lotus brought together is a testament to their music. It’s free of any labels of classification and requires only a mind open to good music. Just looking into the crowd you could see a range of people from those dressed in full costume to elderly couples swing dancing. Going solo to a Lotus show like I did only means there’s a greater opportunity to meet friendly and interesting people. Among the crowd I met a group of real estate agents from San Francisco, a raver chick from California, and a nomad who shapes his travel itinerary according to the touring schedule of the band. After questing him more, I realized that he was hardly an anomaly. Lotus has a grouping of roadies that follow them from show to show particularly for the open-hearted scene their music creates. This following is also due to the jam aspect of their set. No two Lotus shows are the same, providing a unique experience only available in the present moment of their concert.

 

Empire of the Sun – Two Vines

If Empire of the Sun’s goal is to transport listeners to another world with their music, I’d say they’re doing a pretty good job. They somehow always manage to create a fantasy-like ambiance in their songs. With a dazzling headpiece and flashy outfits, the Australian duo has returned to deliver an album to satisfy our eardrums.

When Empire of the Sun came into the music scene with Walking on a Dream, they caused a stir with their experimental nature and whimsical music. They lost a bit of their momentum when Ice on the Dune came out, but they seem to bring it back on the latest album Two Vines. While not having the initial charm that their first album had, Two Vines brings about poppy tunes infused with electronic elements.

Two Vines starts slow with “Before”, a groovy tune that pairs well with singer Luke Steele’s airy vocals.  The album then kicks into gear with the first single “High and Low.” A song inspired by a childhood friend, group member Nick Littlemore hoped to lyrically channel the experiences of adolescence. There is an innocence in track as Steele sings, “Now we are running in a pack to the place you don’t know/And I want you to know that I’ll always be around.”

As the album progresses, we reach the track “Friends.” It is a curious composition as a sluggish drum beat eventually transforms into a danceable breakdown. While I think the band went a little too heavy with the auto-tune, the captivating synths makes up for it.

Towards the end of the album, their slower tempo songs take the spotlight. “Digital Life” offers a more futuristic track with industrial steam intertwining with an oriental sounding melody. “To Her Door” closes the album with a triumphant ballad that features the beautiful guitar playing of Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac.

Empire of the Sun’s unique style alone draws attention, but their creativity with music is what makes fans stay. Their music never fails to take the listener on a journey to a colorful paradise. Two Vines certainly does that with a vivid ride through their jubilant jungle.

Empire of the Sun will be playing a show at the Great Saltair on December 3.