Show Review: Lotus, Tycho, El Ten Eleven @ Red Rocks Amphitheater

Photos by Timmy Farmer

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El Ten Eleven began the evening’s music during the twilight sky with Red Rocks Amphitheater nearly half full. As an opening act, considerable chatter from fans outside the venue continued to build the anticipation for the night.

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One of the larger audiences for El Ten Eleven’s career, the duo appeared to be performing at the peak of their craft. There were ample fans whom I encountered that mainly came to see El Ten Eleven, it is doubtful that their’ expectations were not met with the first 45 minutes of looping dynamism that filled the natural amphitheater jovial sound.

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Tycho, fresh out of the recording studio, presented a lovely contrast by opening the set with their new single ‘Division’. Four additional tracks that will be on the upcoming album were also played to the delight of the crowd, of which one, ‘Epoch’, has just been released as a single available basically everywhere. The remaining tracks were choice selections from the past two official releases, 2011’s Dive and 2014’s Awake. 

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Compared to my last personal live experience with Tycho, opening for STS9, the energy level felt significantly higher. While there is nothing wrong when the group plays more ambient and downtempo music, Tycho had Red Rocks bumping as if they were headlining the show.

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By halfway through the band’s set, the venue had (or quite nearly) filled up. Keep in mind this was well over 90 minutes before Lotus was scheduled to begin. Leader Scott Hansen addressed the crowd with great praise and appreciation. Guitarist Zac Brown was precise and on-point along with proficient stage presence.

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The crowd and band seemed to reach a zenith during ‘Awake’ and after one more song, many of the attendees including myself enjoyed the one hundred or so minutes of music to a point where if the night had concluded then, we would have been more than content.

Tycho Set List:

“Division”
“A Walk”
“Hours”
“???? – (new track)”
“L”
“???? – (new track)”
“Epoch”
“???? – (new track)”
“Awake”
“Montana”

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The beautiful weather of the day continued into the night, staying mild until Lotus began to melt faces and minds. The five-piece ensemble opened their set with high-energy ‘128’. Always near the forefront of the live music lighting FX, there was no disappointment to be had on this evening. The familiar colored spot lights and LED were shortly complimented by an incredibly innovative and unique idea. Ropes hung from the rafters to the floor all over the stage and soon lit up in cascades of raining color. Imagine a cave filled with glow worms, and the luminescent strings they create…that is the appearance of the lights when on with no movement. Somehow “Lighthenge” is becoming an afterthought – the rainbow splashed columns that were synonymous with live Lotus until around four or five years ago.

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This was around my fifteenth Lotus show and for the first time in my experience, multiple vocalists were brought onstage. For anyone who had listened to the latest release, Eats The Light, the voices were familiar. Oriel Poole, Gabriel Otto (Pan Astral), and Denver’s own Raven Jane, performed their works off of Eats The Light admirably. Lotus does a wonderful job balancing out the climactic moments of the show, cooling off a bit after the fiery opener. The cover of Scandinavian DJ Todd Terje’s ‘Inspector Norse’ certainly had everyone’s knees bouncing- Lotus has done a spectacular job of covering DJ tracks in the past (Aphex Twin’s Film immediately comes to mind) which is not easy to do with an instrumental band, though synthesizers certainly lend a large helping hand.

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The energy again increased as the easily recognizable commencement of ‘Hammerstrike’ had began live for the first time in over five months and had the crowd as engaged as possible. Drummer Mike Greenfield, who recently welcomed a new child into the world, perhaps subconsciously energized as he typically plays his kit stoically, raised up from his throne for a moment and played with more visible passion than he typically appears to during ‘Hammerstrike’. The entire crowd engaged in some mild head-banging during the heavy chorus, enjoying the rarer treat that the song is becoming. Following their crescendo/decrescendo pattern, the new track ‘Anti-Gravity’ along with its vocalist Oriel Poole appearing on stage was the perfect choice in retrospect. This song seemed to have a split audience, some simply were not into the tune but I was not one of them. It has the feel of a Moby-inspired downtempo dance track, not something expected from Lotus but it is welcome due to the execution.

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Another treat for longtime fans came shortly thereafter as NOMAD’s ‘Livingston Storm’ chilled out the venue before a thunderbolt of energy came onstage in the form of Gabriel Otto. The lead vocalist for the title track on Eats The Light, first performed ‘Sleep When We Are Dead’ before jumping into ‘Eats The Light’. And just like an acclaimed author who knows when to shift topics, the relaxed funky classic ‘Spaghetti’ (first played in 2001) gave a respite to everyone that performed or danced to the vivacity of the previous two songs. Any fan who went wild over the previous song did so again, as ‘Nematode’ was played for just the second time this summer after an appearance at Merryland Music Festival. Such a positive and happy melody, those emotions blanketed the venue and did not stop as they jammed then segued seamlessly into the second NOMAD song of the night, ‘Greet The Mind’.

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Lotus did not take the stage until 10pm, and with the 12am curfew, decided to maximize their time on stage by not taking a set nor encore break. It certainly was appreciated by the thousands of fans who had been in attendance for five plus hours. The decision to not leave the stage gave them the time for two extra songs at least, a great decision in my opinion. The first of those two was ‘Behind Midwest Storefront’, easily discerned by the opening cymbals. Often an encore song, it had some in the crowd including myself believing that would conclude the show, yet Lotus surprised by turning the energy back up with ‘What Did I Do Wrong’ off of Build to finish off the night.

Lotus Set List:

“128”
“Cold Facts”
“Suntan feat. Raven Jane”
“Inspector Norse>D Jam”
“Hammerstrike”
“Anti-Gravity feat. Oriel Poole”
“Livingston Storm>Ab Jam”
“Sleep When We Are Dead feat. Gabriel Otto”
“Eats The Light feat. Gabriel Otto”
“Spaghetti”
“Nematode>E Jam”
“Greet The Mind”
“Behind Midwest Storefronts”
“What Did I Do Wrong”

Lotus will be select dates for the remainder of the year. For ticket information on all upcoming Lotus shows click here.

Direct support Tycho will be on tour for the foreseable future. For a list of dates as well as ticket information click here.

El Ten Eleven will also be on tour for the greater part of the fall. Click here for dates!

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