Lotus/El Ten Eleven @ Crystal Ballroom: Review

Friday before last saw the Crystal Ballroom, one of Portland’s most iconic concert venues, host a night of music unlike anything else that was happening in the city that evening.

Lotus, originally from Indiana, came by with supporting act El Ten Eleven, a Los Angeles duo, while on a lengthy tour. Despite being a fair way from home, both bands brought an enormous amount of energy to the evening, playing well on into the morning that followed.

Starting the night off, El Ten Eleven warmed up the crowd with their captivating brand of post-rock. Making very heavy use of a wide array of guitar pedals, primarily loops, guitarist/bassist Kristian Dunn was able to fill the entire ballroom up with beautiful and calculated textures while drummer and keyboardist Tim Fogarty held down the rhythm section duties expertly. Watching a set from these two is a lot like witnessing choreographed dance; there is a definite flow to Dunn’s movements between finding the next pedal to stomp on while letting a beat ring out, underlined by the mathematic drumming Fogarty lays down. At one point toward the end of their set, Fogarty stood up from behind his hybrid acoustic/electric kit, drum sticks in hand, and proceeded to drum out the rhythm to a riff on Dunn’s bass as Dunn filled in the notes on the fret board. The two have a long history of playing together, and that is a fact that shines through every aspect of their live set.

Lotus then filled out the rest of the bill, playing a career spanning batch of songs that stretched over two full sets. With the venue packed, the five-piece band kicked right into smooth groove after smooth groove, giving the crowd something that was just as fun to dance around to as it was to watch happening from the musicians hands as they played. All the while, Lotus’ live experience was punctuated perfectly by the expertly seasoned light engineer behind the scenes. Put on a pedestal next to the likes of Pink Floyd and Phish, Lotus utilize a phenomenal use of finely tuned lighting to add moods to their set. Looking to fire on as many cylinders as they can, Lotus takes that a step further by offering up eager fans in the crowd the same opportunity via a concert that is as much visual as it is aural, and the response from the crowd speaks for itself.

Hopefully looking to return in the near future, Lotus and El Ten Eleven have once again made their mark on Oregon’s Rainy City, and fans of not only the bands, but of being able to dance your cares away, are already hungry for the next stop through town that these two bands have planned.

 

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