People Gettin’ Down in the Rafters: Live Review of Lotus at The Regency Ballroom

03/07/2015

Lotus played the beautiful Regency Ballroom earlier this month, and it was a scorcher. Lotus brings sounds that jamband fiends have all grown to adore– the types of jams that play in the background of South Park episodes when they make fun of jam bands and the surrounding culture. And as the title suggests, people were absolutely gettin’ down up in them rafters that Friday in February.

First things first, Lotus is a special band. They were one of the first bands I was seeing when I was first getting into the jam scene back in the day in Atlanta – and they’ve been going long before that: Lotus has been getting after it since 1999, when the original members formed at Goshen College in Indiana. Comprised of two guitarists, drums, and a bass+DJ combo, they epitomize the classic sounds of jam for me, and many consider them serious pioneers in bringing jamtronica to the masses. While there is a definite element of electronic in their music, there’s more than a healthy dose of improvisational instrumentals – with guitar tones reminiscent of Jerry Garcia; that flat-yet-popping tone that just sounds right.

You can check out their whole set here at Lotusvibes.com (the premier Lotus-focused message board), but the band seemed to be playing mainly older material – which is always nice for the die-hard fans. And let’s be honest, casual fans usually can’t tell the difference, so everybody wins. They had an electrifying presence, with satisfying crescendos of sound that quickly transformed right into the next jam. They even busted out their very own David Byrne lookalike (Gabe Otto) to cover the Talking Heads‘ “Crosseyed & Painless,” which was right on point, and fuel for the crowd’s fire.

Those of you who’ve been to the Regency know – the venue alone is a huge draw. But I will say – security is outrageously strict. In fact, this was the harshest security I’ve ever experienced in SF. I got the full-on “spread ’em” pat down, a truly no shenanigans affair. And this is coming from someone who’s weathered numerous Widespread Panic shows at the infamous Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama, a place notorious for drug dogs and backwoods cops colliding with old-school Dead Head Alabaman’s just looking to have a good time.

But then again, this is Lotus. A band that is a staple in the jam circuit and has been for the past ~16 years. Let’s just say, they attract a very heady and diverse crowd. An awesome crowd, but a more “illicit” one if you will. It was incredibly refreshing to see such a big turnout for the band; a mixed bag of attendees from hipster pot smokers, to southern transplants hounding double whiskeys with beer chasers (yours truly), molly-popping tech bros, gorgeous flower children all the way up to full-blown wookies sweating out patchouli underneath their drug rugs (I guess they’re technically called “Baja Hoodies“).

And that’s what it’s all about right? All of us coming together to enjoy awesome music. For me, that’s what makes this city the best one on the goddamn planet.

Be sure to catch out Lotus when they’re in your town, you can check out their full touring schedule here, and also check out these rad pictures the one and only Bob Patterson braved whatever-the-crazy-fuck sickness is going around SF right now to capture for you all.