Thursday night I was treated to a visual and auditory experience unlike any other! You might be wondering, “What the hell is a 3D concert?” No matter what I write, it won’t fully explain or capture what it was really like. Let’s just say it was a trip! I definitely felt like I was on some kind of hallucinogen. Electronic shows are usually a fucking drag to watch because no matter how you slice it, you are watching some dude behind a laptop. Flying Lotus in 3D is proof that electronic shows are finally evolving for the better. Some might argue that this is a gimmick and is a detriment to the music. I’d argue that even if it isn’t your thing, it isn’t without merit. It might not be the concert-going experience we are all used to, and maybe the music does get a bit sidelined, but I would never say it wasn’t one hell of a show.
Opening act Seven Davis Jr. was a bit more conventional in that he didn’t have a full screen to project images on, and was pretty much relegated to the corner of the stage. That said, he was still more fun to watch than most electronic acts I’ve had to sometimes suffer through. The twist on the formula was that he actually had a real live drummer playing with him, and he often inserted funky melodies and rap into his instrumentals. His tunes were certainly catchy and memorable. Seven Davis Jr’s enthusiasm and bright fashion sense (I dig those peace sign glasses!) were also infectious. If his set was forgettable, it was only because the set by Flying Lotus was so out of this world. At any other electronic show, he would have easily been the standout.
DJ PBDY basically acted as the background music in between the two sets, and as such, I don’t really feel need to comment further. He played music behind his laptop…nothing much more to say.
The real treat of the night was, of course, the main event. Flying Lotus emerged from this oddly-shaped rock thing that almost looked like a cross between stalactites and the roots of a tree. A low bass rumble could be heard, and as bright red clouds started to appear on a giant screen it became evident what the 3D glasses were for. The visuals were breathtaking and almost felt like looking straight into the abyss. They would get even crazier as the night rolled on. I can’t remember everything I saw, but the highlights included a giant spaceship, melting faces that swirled into the crowd, and a never-ending hallway. More often than not these images complimented the music beautifully, but the one complaint I have is that at times it was a bit distracting. I’d find myself just blankly staring instead of really engaging with the music.
This is too bad because I believe Flying Lotus to be a true musical artist, and I found that fact seemed to be a secondary component at this show, almost as if his music was solely there to soundtrack the surreal images. Even though I would have liked to hear more of his jazzier stuff, particularly 2014’s You’re Dead, his set was particularly strong and full of some amazing left turns. One of my favourite moments came when he sampled Angelo Badalamenti’s “Twin Peaks Theme”. I’d like to think David Lynch is a Flying Lotus fan since they are both so wonderfully eccentric.
Another highlight was when he stepped out in front to rap as his alter-ego Captain Murphy. I love when DJs go and explore the entire stage! Sometimes it can come off as awkward, but Flying Lotus was a much more engaging performer than you might expect. All of it flowed so wonderfully! The long sprawling instrumentals served as epic introductions to the rap side of Flying Lotus’s persona, which then culminated with more well-known stuff like “Never Catch Me” and “Zodiac Shit.”
The audience was in awe for most of it, but by the end were dancing and having a good time. There was a percentage of the crowd that was unbearably obnoxious though. You know, the kind of people that are there to do drugs, talk with their friends, and not even pay attention to what’s going on. I felt like screaming, “DO YOU EVEN REALIZE WHAT YOU’RE MISSING!” The people that did soak it all in were definitely enamored by the show. There were several audible gasps and huge applause when there was the odd break in the music. I know I have never been to any show quite like it. Electronic shows in general still have some kinks to work out, but after seeing Flying Lotus in 3D, I can’t wait to see where the genre is headed!
Written by Shawn Thicke
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson