Written by: Mikala Lugen | Photo(s) by: Colin McKinley/Alpine Music Photo
Lotus Returns To Red Rocks Amphitheatre With Classic Cuts & Live Debuts [Exclusive Tim Palmieri Interview]
Imagine stepping foot on one of the world’s most iconic outdoor amphitheaters and you’ve never seen or witnessed a live performance there. This was Lotus’ Tim Palmieri as he graced the stage of Morrison, CO’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre Saturday night in front of a dedicated crowd of 9,000 fans.
“I just want to please people and the hard core fans. I want to please the band and myself and all my friends. I can’t believe I’m here [at Red Rocks Amphitheatre]. Part of my nature is perfectionism and I’m very critical of myself but that makes me the player that I am,” Palmieri told Volume backstage ahead of his debut performance on the famous stage. “We tend to overthink sometimes, but you shouldn’t overthink when it comes to music. Like a few other disciplines in life, you gotta let go. It’s like you’re channeling eroticism. It’s all about being free flowing and allowing the music to come from the heart.”
And of course, as Lotus’ 14th appearance at the world-renowned venue, the chilly mid-April night was blessed with an outpour of layered funk, jam, rock, jazz and electronica music straight from the heart of the band. After sunset opening sets from STRFKR and Cut Copy, Lotus wasted no time and pulled out all the stops for their annual return to the Rocky Mountain music venue.
A kickoff of the band’s dripping electro-funk “Wax” set the crowd off into a danceable groove, trying to warm up in the brisk 40-degree night. The band’s 2020 Free Swim lead single “Catacombs” got a run for its money as the upbeat and light melody took on a heavier and darker tone thanks to Palmieri’s own style on the track, meshing well with the rest of the group for a fresher live take on the song. Listening to Lotus, they’re one of those bands that always conjure up some sort of magical and mystical occurrence during their live sets, and this show was no exception. A special occasion and milestone for the band calls for a touch of magic. While last year’s Red Rocks performance saw a rising mountain full moon, this year’s show brought on a shining meteorite centered over the stage as the band played through the Rüfüs Du Sol cover “Innerbloom.” Beams of light flashed across the stage paired with booming synths and a mid-tempo house percussion, furthering the band’s genre-bending sound and overlapping electronic and jam communities.
Call it a mix of chilly shivers and the need to continue dancing all while just not wanting to stop the energy and chemistry onstage, the band played through what would be a usual setbreak and played on, transitioning the celestial cover into their own beloved “Umbilical Moonrise.” While with the band for only seven months, Palmieri added his own respective touch to the instrumental groove for his first live rendition of the two-decade old emotive tune. While fans would usually be led into a soft and gentle ending, Palmieri showcased his impressive musicianship and playing style with a shred-heavy conclusion.
Ticking upwards of playing for two hours straight, Lotus went into their live debut of their most recent single, “Pluck.” The single marks Palmieri’s first studio recording with the band, highlighting a driving synth bass line and house beat that builds into a psych-rock melody with layers of guitar, upright piano, and percussion.
“”Pluck” was done before I was even [with Lotus]. When I became part of the band, I went and recorded all these new songs for an upcoming record that will eventually be released. “Pluck” is the first single off this new album we just recorded,” Palmieri said. “I would expect it to be released before the end of the year. Jesse and Luke wrote all of the material, so I was able to learn all the guitar parts and record in the studio. It’s a balanced process of having songs fully vetted and formed, but then when I can solo, I fucking shred. Lotus is always pushing their own boundaries stylistically with each new album that gets pushed out. If you listen through their whole discography, you can hear how different, evolved, and genre-bending the band is. This new album is still pushing their own limits in that sense. We’re at a cool point and chapter where we’re starting to merge with our own musical styles to make some cool new music.”
A final set ending of “Flower Sermon” sent the crowd in an uproar. Of course, what would a successful return to Red Rocks be without a crushing encore? A brief moment for both the band and the crowd to catch the breath brought all five members back onstage for a celebratory two-song extended encore of “Land Of The Lush” and “Debris.” With their annual Red Rocks return now under the belt, Lotus is ready to continue hitting the road for a jam-packed summer season of headlining shows and festivals. For a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit the band’s website.
Setlist: Lotus | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | April 23rd, 2022
Wax, Catacombs, Destroyer, Middle Road, It’s All Clear to Me Now > Innerbloom > Umbilical Moonrise, Pluck* > Flower Sermon
E: Land of the Lush, Debris
Notes: Pluck debut, Umbilical Moonrise first play with Tim Palmieri
Jocelyn Van Saun