Aricle by Kevin Woods ; Photos by Kevin Woods and Conrad Meyer
A couple of weekends ago, I got the pleasure of going on Lotus and the Nadis Warriors' three day Texas tour. After living in Colorado for the past 5 years, I wasn't sure what to expect…the last time I saw Lotus was at a sold at show at the Red Rocks amphitheater, and the capacity of Warehouse Live in Houston couldn't have been more then 300. Rather than go into great detail of actually being there, because as most readers know most intense musical experiences are impossible to express, I decided rather to focus on the different atmospheres each city gave off, how the spread of electronic and livetronic music has shaped the subcultures in these regions, and what the future holds for the Texas music scene.
The first stop on the tour was Dallas. The show was at a venue called Trees, which I had never been to before (this was actually my first time visiting Dallas since I was born there 22 years ago). The neighborhood around the venue was the style of trendy where you get the feeling that just a few years before it was a rough neighborhood. Next to fine dining, night clubs, and furniture stores were vacant buildings and graffiti was prevalent. The outside of the venue didn't look like much: dirty cement blocks, narrow front. However as we got inside, I realized the venue stretched far back, and even had a substantial balcony section. The stage struck me in particular; it was nearly as tall as I was. The decor of the place was amazing: they had turned all the pillars around the room into trees, and there were several pieces of art made from bark or plant material. As I got in Re:Evolution Media artist wiZard was finishing his set. He used his electric guitar to add hooks to melodic glitch beats and synthesizers. Unfortunately, the crowd was thin at this point and were busy with conversation to appreciate the talent onstage. I think I was one of the few with my dancing shoes on for that one.
After wiZard, hometown heroes The Nadis Warriors played an incredible set. You could feel the loving energy from the crowd, many of whom had watched this band grow from the beginning. Some songs that were particularly incredible were their Beastie Boy's remix "Root Down", Yearning (Jordan's Song) (Heart), and their brand new track “Language is a Virus.” The Nadis Warriors were definitely on the top of their game for this show, you could see how happy and blessed they were to be playing for such beautiful people.
Lotus closed the nights with two separate sets. By this time, the volume was all the way up on Tree's amazing sound system, and the venue was packed. I had to keep moving from the front up to the less crowded balcony just to get some air. Lotus' set that night was more of their atmospheric, jazzy side. Not to get me wrong, it was nonstop movement and dance the whole night, but in comparison to the next night at Austin it seemed like they didn't throw down as hard as I've seen them in other venues.
We got to La Zona Rosa in Austin just as doors opened. It's an odd venue to say the least. It's huge, first of all, but the stage only faces about a third of the room. There are separate wings going off of it that didn't seem to be in use very much. There was no opener this night; the Nadis Warriors started playing promptly at 9. The crowd was nearly as enthusiastic here as in Dallas, and as more people poured in, the more the energy in the room lifted. The Nadis Warriors once again played a solid set, with highlights of Bob Marley's "Exodus", and a song off their new album Allele Frequencies: "Prophase." By the end of their set, the venue was filling up fast and anxious for the headliner.
Lotus has really stepped their game up since seeing them over the years. One of the greatest moves they made in my opinion was buying such an amazing light system, and taking it on tour with them. That, coupled with La Zona Rosa's massive system, led them to absolutely tear down the place as they played another two sets that night. This night's "theme" was much funkier then the night before. Although there were moments to catch a breath when the synthesizers created melodic atmosphere, the crowd would immediately be thrown into a bass heavy, guitar riff laden groove that melted from one song to the other. At one point they created such a massive buildup, then flawlessly dropped into a much slower bass line as the other musicians joined them in a catchy riff. The one thing I came to respect about Lotus over the tour was the technical precision of their musicianship. They knew exactly the atmosphere they wanted to create, and when their hearts were into it, the whole venue went nuts.
The last stop on my ride was in Houston. Since it was a Sunday night and rap rules the music industry there, maybe 200 people showed up at the show. This led to an interesting, very intimate experience to listen to some smoother jams and talk to the artists. The show ended early at midnight, everyone packed up, and that was the end of my wild three day ride with Lotus and the Nadis Warriors.
As I reminisced about the weekend afterwards, the thing that struck me most was the state of the electronic music industry in Texas. I grew up here, and for years the only type of electronic music were warehouse raves or psytrance campouts in the woods. When I moved to Colorado when I turned 18, I was blessed to watch a new generation of musicians go from playing dingy clubs to world class venues. Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, countless others were playing every week around Colorado for years before moving on to the national circuit. Since moving back, I've been blessed to see the emergence of a similar culture in cities like Dallas, Austin, and perhaps Houston. It seems that no matter where you are, we all respond to the tribal beat within us that draws us together as an open, loving community. Every month more and more amazing musicians and artists are either touring through Texas or getting a following around the region, like the Nadis Warriors and Govinda have shown. Cities like LA, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Philadelphia have been the epicenters of new types of expression and electronic music for the past few years, but after spending the weekend seeing such an open and grateful scene as they have in Texas, I'm inclined to think those other cities are going to have some serious competition on their hands soon.
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