It’s a blessing when artists of Flying Lotus’ caliber come to Philadelphia to perform. This time, we got Flying Lotus and Thundercat — two of the finest artists on Brainfeeder, the electronic record label founded by Flying Lotus. The two musicians performed Oct. 14 at the legendary Tower Theater in Upper Darby to an animated crowd.
Upon entering an eerily foggy room cast aglow with a deep sea of blue, the spacey atmosphere was peppered with scattering young adult waiting for the start of the show. Meanwhile, a disc jockey kept the air moving by playing some ambient trap music. As he let a final note ring throughout the venue and the lights began to dim, the crowd pushed forward to the unfortunately limited standing area in front of the stage
On stage right was a drum set, some amplifiers and multiple keyboards arranged in a tight half-circle rather close to the edge of the stage. In all of his glory, Thundercat and his two band mates came from the darkness of backstage, Thundercat donning an interesting outfit, the most eye-catching being the fur animal hat.
As they got into their set, their music took on a completely different vibe than what is heard on Thundercat’s albums. Whereas the bassist once played for a thrash band and now performs a somewhat electronic-funk blend on his solo records, this performance had a much more jazzy feel. As an interesting way to start off his set, Thundercat performed the ending theme song to “Adventure Time,” the popular Cartoon Network series.
All throughout, Thundercat and his band mates performed tracks with mighty embellishments. Multiple times the drummer wailed on his set with lightning speed, yet always with rhythmic stride. Thundercat took many opportunities to strut his stuff plucking away at his bass with amazing precision on songs like “Tron Song” and “Without You.” Even the keyboardist had his shining moments playing two different keyboards at once.
With such a not-so-rave-like set, the crowd was surely feeling the vibe more so than one might expect. Heads were bobbing furiously to the punches of the drums, bodies were grooving to the smooth, yet undeniably funky bass, and hands were in the air at times giving approval to the performers. It’s safe to say that Thundercat did not disappoint.
After a roar of applause from the tightly packed crowd, Thundercat thanked the audience for their support and left the stage. After a brief intermission and stage rearrangement, all eyes were on the cube-like structure that stood ominously center-stage. That’s where Flying Lotus would stand; that’s where Flying Lotus would reign.
In a surprisingly nonchalant manner, Flying Lotus appeared left stage after the lights went dark and he quickly assumed his position behind his boards. Lights rained down on the stage and began to depict abstract images on the wall behind the band, as well as on the cube-like structure surrounding him. The structure wasn’t a prop; it was a canvas for a wildly creative visual experience.
As Flying Lotus’ music reverberated throughout the hall, strange shapes, figures, colors and textures were painted with lights on the structure giving the show an amazingly unique feel. It wasn’t just the music we were there for; it was also for the visual entertainment of which Flying Lotus has always been so keen to deliver.
The bass rattled our bones as classic tracks like “Zodiac S–t” and “Putty Boy Strut” were punctuated by lesser known, but equally eccentric songs such as “Sultan’s Request” and “Computer Face//Pure Being.” While he periodically inserted unreleased songs — an exciting treat — as part of his set, he spent a lot of time revisiting songs off of “Cosmogramma,” “Until the Quiet Comes” and of course, his most recent effort, “You’re Dead!”
The crowd went wild as the producer jumped out from behind the structure he’d stood behind up until this point. He grabbed a microphone and immediately starting spitting bars as his rapper alter ego, Captain Murphy. Among other songs, the obvious crowd favorite was “Mighty Morphin’ Foreskin.” He was no more than a few feet away from the front row of the crowd, which they seemed to love.
After he got a few of his raps out, Flying Lotus returned to his stand and continued to play several hits like “Putty Boy Strut” to an audience enthusiastically clapping along to the claps within the song itself. As the show neared its end, he played a few more songs off his latest release. Ending the show with “Never Catch Me,” which features Kendrick Lamar, the crowd jumped and danced to the beat of the drums. Once the song concluded, the Brainfeeder leader came back out to the front of the stage and gave the audience a warm goodbye by practically standing in the front row and giving everyone who he could reach a high five.
For all electronic music fans, Flying Lotus is a unique figure who stands as one of the most ingenious creators of our generation. Along with the talents of Thundercat, Flying Lotus has created some of this century’s most innovative music and continues to build his fan base. With performances like the one at Tower Theater, it’s hard to imagine more and more people won’t be getting their hands on his latest effort, as well as his other releases. The “You’re Dead!” tour came to Philadelphia, but the crowd could not have been more alive, that’s for sure.