This Labor Day Weekend, Lotus returned to Nelsons Ledges Quarry Park to host their annual Summerdance Festival, and it was another full send. A unique venue in terms of festival grounds, NLQP in Garretsville, Ohio is situated next to a state park and holds a nicely sized freshwater lake that is remnants of a limestone quarry that had filled up decades ago. Its clear blue green waters are one of the best swimming spots in Ohio and even have a strange occurrence of freshwater jellyfish inhabitants that can been seen in some parts of the quarry. The quarry is a perfect place to cool off, hang out on the beach with friends or bring a giant float which is the popular leisurely activity during the pre-music hours and when the weather gets hot. This year a few fans took a different approach and had been enjoying a good float on a giant log until they parked it and my friend and I hijacked the log and took her for a quick spin around the lake. She was an awkward vessel but fun nonetheless. It was silly and super enjoyable. The water temperature was absolutely perfect this time of year for any lake activity, and anyone who did not take a swim or jump off the Ledges definitely missed out.
The location of the stage near the beach and water is also unique to NLQP. Guests attending the park can swim and relax knowing that no music will be missed while doing so. The quality sound system and speaker array are truly fantastic. Music comes through with superbly crisp notes and tones (kudos to the sound crew for such a great job). My campsite on the lake was a short walk away but the sound was still sharp and clean from the stage even at a distance. The clarity at such distance was certainly impressive.
3 nights of Lotus at a beautiful venue with swimming and camping is truly a wonderful thing, and so was this years music. This years SD festival’s supporting artists included, Cut Chemist who threw down some great stuff early in the day. Paris Monster (previously unknown to me) was a fun one and consisted of instrumentation, live production and drumming, Moon Hooch on the horns was upbeat and had the crowd enjoying the moments.
When Saturday turned into night Lotus delivered the funky vibes as the packed crowd got down creating a buzz of dancing, wiggles, hugs and laughter. Groups met up and held down fort with friends. Shenanigans ensued as flamingos and suitcases of spaghetti appeared on the scene. This is a party and not your regular venue indoors. Laser pointers, rage sticks, pool noodles, and various toys fill the frame nearly everywhere you glance. The outpouring of fog from the stage creates fantastic silhouettes of the band. As the lighting pans out from the stage the crowd gets kissed by light and the numbers of the crowd really show. There are a lot of people packed in pretty tight, It's nearly impossible to move through the crowd. The floor is made up of beach sand and the occasional book bag all the way up to the front of the stage, which is without a rail. Instead there is a wood timber reinforced wall supporting the stage where fans hold strong as if rail riding.
The energy of all things in motion is easily noticed as something special. The low tone of Jesse's bass sends a clean deep pulse through the heart of the grounds. Rempel sways and shreds at the front corner of the stage being lit by the LD just enough to appear through as the wind clears the fog on occasion. Chuck and Mike G are hidden in the dense fog trapped in the stage; they are heard but rarely seen. Luke appears in opposite corner to Rempel and the typical Lotus formation is complete. The music flows beautifully throughout the evening as heavy deep electronic groves, modular tones and a sample heavy night completely crush this set. A "Bellweirder" variation of the track bellwether and many other songs back into bellwether takes over the majority of the set and things get dark and funky. Personal favorites of the sequence “Pluck,” “Sickly Child,” and “Ra Ako St” deliver the goods. A three song encore of “Kesey Seed,” “Cream on Chrome,” and “Shimmer and Out” wraps up the evening. The time flies by and the music is never quite long enough it seems.
Sunday morning the clouds appeared and put an end to the sunshine and good weather. During the day I took a relaxing kayak paddle and spent some time in the woods as I waited for Lotus the return to the stage for the last sets of the weekend.
A constant drizzle during the beginning of the set as Lotus starts it off with the classic “Spiritualize.” The tempo slows a bit as they move into a cover of Radiohead’s “Airbag.” While it’s nice to see new songs on their set lists, in this case…for my taste, it isn’t a great song choice, as it breaks the flow of the set.
As the skies flash behind the stage, an announcement to go take cover and prepare for a storm comes through. Within a minute the rain becomes strong and people race to get to shelter. I run back to camp to dry and put my camera gear away for the evening. I was bummed this was the reality of my evening, but heavy rain and camera gear don’t play well together. The music again takes main focus from here.
While at camp, Lotus had taken stage, and when Jesse's bass hit those first few notes roughly 25 minutes after the break, the woods lit up with screams and hollers. The crowd quickly returns to the stage and the show continues in the rain. An appropriate and personal favorite “Livingston Storm” into another favorite, “Slow Cookin” makes its appearance this set as well as a killer “Suitcases.” The set ends with a Summerdance fan favorite and classic Lotus tune “Umbilical Moonrise” and puts smiles on the faces of fans who love this band. It all feels like a big family and the vibes are high within the crowd. Lotus has done it again, delivering a fantastic weekend of high energy funk and jam; keeping the dance strong. This is one I'll be listening to for years, thanks to the recordings available on Lotus Bandcamp and also on Nugs. Be sure to give them a listen or download them forever.
Finally, Im happy to report that a recently announced 2 night Lotus show at my local venue, The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio for November 16th and 17th is next up, and I couldn't be more excited. There is no such thing as too much Lotus; this band stays fresh and exciting no matter how often I see them. LoFam for life! Big thanks to Lotus band members and crew, Opus One Productions, NLQP staff and The Lot Scene for the support.