Flying Lotus is everywhere. If not creating a track for the out-of-nowhere Rick Rubin Star Wars album, having a hand in any number of projects stemming from the ultra hip Brainfeeder LA collective, or sharing new work on an 8-minute film at Sundance, you might catch him at his day job; playing a show.
In this case, Flying Lotus appeared on Grammys eve eve as part of a free show for the Converse Rubber Tracks Live music series that originally launched in Brooklyn in 2012.
Steven Ellison aka, Flying Lotus, was summoned to the stage by an anxious crowd. “FlyLo” chants bounced around the Teragram Ballroom in the minutes before his hometown show. Lotus pulled no punches upon arrival as he revealed that there wasn’t a planned setlist; he flat out asked everyone which songs to play. And so it began.
At times jazzy and abstract, often booming and dance-inducing, the show progressed along a dreamlike arc; disparate scenes strung together without rhyme or reason, with the transition from one track to the next going virtually unnoticed in a sonic blur. One moment you are walking down the street, the next you’re speaking with your elementary school teacher in a fictional foreign country. No sense, no continuity, yet no complaints.
Early in the set, strands of the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” were woven in to the mix which revved up the audience, who appeared eager to sing along with the classic.
The visual experience was mesmerizing and elegant. The crisp, colorful, and frenetic images surrounded FlyLo as if he was standing in a box of ever changing light, serving as a reminder that we live in the future. As he became tangled up in these blues, greens and reds behind the semi-transparent proscenium screen, he still managed to command the audience’s attention as if he were strutting on a catwalk.
Later, Ellison initiated a backing beat before finally emerging to the front of the stage to rap over the track. Pulled from the catalog of his alter ego Captain Murphy, “The Killing Joke” boasted via Batman and Bruce Wayne references, while deep bass notes vibrated sternums.
The rousing Lotus-Kendrick Lamar collaboration, the Grammy-nominated “Never Catch Me” from 2015’s You’re Dead! came late in the set. Its inclusion seemed to bring things full circle. Earlier in the night, following a glass-raised communal toast with the audience, FlyLo introduced a beat that he said was the first he ever sent to Kendrick in hopes of such a collaboration.
By night’s end, Flying Lotus paused to address the crowd with swagger about his two Grammy nominations. Although not bashful, he was earnest. Lotus copped to having written an acceptance speech in case of a win Monday night. But in case he didn’t, he wanted to share his message of how thankful he is for “the support of the city of Los Angeles…the beat community…the beat heads, from day one.” In this contemplative moment, he weighed what a loss might look like, cameras affixed to his face as someone else moves to accept the award. He said he wouldn’t hold back disappointment, but “either way it’s gonna be alright.”