Photos provided by: Maury Payan
When I read news that Flying Lotus would be coming to a city near me, I was floored and determined to be in attendance. I purchased my ticket as soon as it was available to public and took a road trip with a few friends to Asheville, North Carolina. This show could not have come at a better time, as of lately I’ve been listening to Flying Lotus more than ever and he hadn’t yet played in North Carolina since his most recent album, Until The Quiet Comes, was released last year.
2012 was full of surprises with Flying Lotus revealing that he is in fact Captain Murphy and him officially bringing Flatbush, NY hip-hop duo The Underachievers into the Brainfeeder family. The eclectic sounds of Flying Lotus first hit my eardrums with his tribute to the late great J. Dilla, I guess you could say I fell in love and things just blossomed from there.
Arriving late, Teebs was packing up his equipment as I entered the venue. One thing I was looking forward to was witnessing the type of crowd this genre would pull, it’s hard to say. I personally don’t know many Flying Lotus fans, so seeing a room full of people from all walks of life who appreciated this man’s music just as much as I was heart-warming. I politely pushed my way to the barricade where I remained the entire night and it wasn’t too long after, that bassist extraordinaire and smooth vocalist Stephen Bruner who records and releases as Thundercat made his way to the stage. As soon as he appeared, the crowd interacted in a way that I had never seen before. The Orange Peel was a spacious venue, plenty of moving room, but still had that small intimate vibe that one would only get if present during the come up of Thundercat. The crowd led him on stage with boasts and hollers; it was almost like a “Welcome Home” encounter. His gaze scanned the crowd of people, grateful for our warm welcome; he signaled for us to each raise our hands, and clap to the beat. He opened up the show as well as my eyes with “Daylight”. Usually I wouldn’t do this, but decided that live would be my introduction to Stephen Bruner, with the exception of a few snippets. Focusing on his debut, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, performed were improvised numbers like “Jamboree”, which showcased Thundercat’s brother Ronald Bruner, Jr. on drums and the fender magnificence that is “Fleer Ultra.” Learning something new every day, I discovered the thread on Thundercat’s George Duke cover “For Love I Come“, occupies a similar space to his guest vocal on the Flying Lotus track “MmmHmm”. With its floating-on-a-cloud airiness, it’d be hard for one not to get absorbed in the rhythms and Thundercat’s grand facial expressions displayed just that. Before exiting stage left he opened the floor for request, as if the obvious answer wouldn’t be his newest single “Heartbreaks + setbacks” from his entirely FlyLo produced sophomore album, Apocalypse. Releasing via Brainfeeder on July 9th (and July 8 in Europe).
During the brief intermission there were conversations of sort while stage crew readied flying lotus’s ensemble. After watching RBMA’s “Layer 3” documentary — which gives you a behind the scenes look into the creation process of his live audiovisual extravaganza — it was a surreal moment to actually see it in person. So frequently have I went to shows where the artists want your undivided attention, so the lack of him being there really allowed the audience to feel the music and not get so caught up in what he was doing on stage. Not everyone would agree, some thought the audiovisual was best suited for a larger setting and felt the lights were blinding.FlyLo, full of energy walked on stage with a huge smile from ear to ear and checked out the crowd to see what he was working with. He then proceeded to do what he does best, Turn up! As “See Thru To U”, the perfect musical pairing featuring Erykah Badu, echoed around the room all attention was brought to the screen where big blue building blocks formulated the words flying lotus. Blazing through tracks by TNGHT, Kendrick Lamar, Main Attrakionz, and even some unreleased material he’s working on with fellow brainfeeder, Thundercat. The crowd’s energy was amazing; no wallflowers in sight. Everyone was caught in the groove, on their feet dancing with not a care in the world. A little mosh pit even broke out for a few minutes too.
Of course, we all came to see FlyLo, but I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind was “Will we hear from Captain Murphy?” Flying Lotus’ evil cartoon alter-ego. He was definitely enjoying all the love Asheville was showing that night and decided to spit “Children Of The Atom” as well as his verse on “Between Friends”, which features Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt. The lights came to a dim and just as the show appeared to have come to an end, feet started to stomp and mouths began to chant “FLY LO!” repetitively. We wanted an encore and like any musician who is a fan of their fans, he gave us just what we wanted which rounded out the main set.
In this day and age — where music is so accessible – people get too comfortable with just downloading. I come from the belief that if you call yourself a legitimate fan of somebody, experiencing their live act is one of the few ways that you can show it. It not only benefits the artist, but a fan because you’ll always have that memory versus someone who just has the albums. I went into this show knowing two songs by Thundercat, and left interested enough to seek more of his music and keep an ear out for his future work. All I’m saying is if you ever get the chance to see your favorite artist live, uncensored, and flawed, take it.
Thundercat will continue to hit the roads with Teebs and the always excellent Lotus through May 25th. Check out their tour dates and a really dope blend by THELIBRARI.an of Flying Lotus’ “Heave(n) and Camp Lo’s “Coolie High”, after the jump.
05-01 New York, NY – Brooklyn Masonic Temple (Red Bull Music Academy Night of Improvised Duets)
05-05 New York, NY – Terminal 5 (Red Bull Music Academy) *#
05-06 New York, NY – Terminal 5 (Red Bull Music Academy) *#
05-12 Boston, MA – Paradise *@
05-13 Montreal, Quebec – Metropolis *@
05-15 Toronto, Ontario – Sound Academy *@
05-16 Cleveland, OH – House of Blues Cleveland *@
05-17 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom *@
05-18 Chicago, IL – Metro *@
05-19 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue *@
05-22 Seattle, WA – Showbox Sodo *@
05-23 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vogue Theater *@
05-24 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater *@
05-25 Oakland, CA – Fox Theater *@
* with Flying Lotus
@ with Teebs
# with Ultraísta