The Scene: Friday, October fourth marked one of the coldest shows I’ve ever witnessed at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Despite the frigid temperatures, Lotus, BoomBox and Break Science were back in town. This time there was no turning back following the September 13th performance that was postponed due to flooding and road damage that made travel to the venue nearly impossible. When we arrived in the lot, the heavily bundled crowd was sparse but eager to dance the night away to stay warm. The order of the evening consisted of hats, gloves, jackets and a bit of cinnamon whiskey to get the legs going. Once we began making the final ascent to the amphitheater, the thermometer had dipped close to 30 degrees, the hand warmers were kicking in and we knew it was going to be a wild show on an eerie but otherwise clear October evening.
Opener: BoomBox. BoomBox delivered another fantastic Colorado performance before Lotus took the stage. Although the duo of Zion Rock Godchaux and Russ “the Captain” Randolph dropped directly into their usual funky favorites like “Round And Round” and “Mr. Boogieman,” their set was louder and more beat heavy than I remember from the past. It’s good to know these guys have an extra gear when they really want to pump up the crowd. As the crowd settled into dance mode, the shivering all around me slowly subsided and real party began to take shape.
Lotus: This was the third consecutive headlining performance for Lotus at Red Rocks and anticipation was palpable in the cold October air. Once the band took the stage and the first funky guitar notes of “Wax” rang out of Mike Rempel’s fingers I knew we were in for a special show. The wild reggae vibes of “Bush Pilot” followed soon after and the crowd responded with manic cheers as it became clear that the central goal was to make the entire crowd dance for a full set. Maybe it was the heavy lingering funk that BoomBox laid over the crowd or just the necessity of dancing to stay warm but the boys had an old-school mentality that night that elevated their performance. Because of the cold air hanging around the rocks, it made for a visual spectacle as lights appeared hazier and shapes took on an enhanced definition.
One of the primary questions coming into the evening was how Lotus would handle their new Hip-Hop offerings. That question was answered in the form of a surprise guest appearance from Dialects vocalist Ras Arcane for “Cloud 9” that brought the crowd to their feet and perfectly separated two different parts of the set. Equally impressive was a transition into “Plant Your Root,” a crowd favorite off the 2004 Nomad album. The song glided along for more than 13 minutes and I haven’t danced harder on The Rocks all summer. With a masterful version of “Greet The Mind” and a rare double feature of “Umbilical Moonrise” and “Umbilical Moonset” to top it off, this show certainly goes down as one of the best at Red Rocks all summer and could certainly be placed in the classic category of Lotus shows.
The only detriments were watching dozens of people, including friends, slip and fall on the slick benches, some with full beers, and a short encore that ran to the bitter end of the allotted time. I’ve never returned from a Red Rocks show to a thick layer of frost on the cars but tonight it seemed to contribute to the mystique.
Setlist: Wax, Bush Pilot, Middle Road, Gilded Age, Neon Tubes> 128, Cloud 9*, Plant Your Root> Moonset, Neon Tubes, Wooly Mammoth, What Did I Do Wrong, Greet the Mind, Umbilical Moonrise, Flower Sermon
Encore: Shimmer & Out
*Ras Arcane on Mic
Stage Prescence: B+
Set/ Light Show: A+