Flying Lotus is a busy guy. This year alone, he: released his first feature film Kuso (a horror flick whose grotesque content caused several walkouts during its screening — and was accompanied by Brainfeeder barf bags for patrons); scored the short animated film Blade Runner 2022; scored and directed a new short film titled Skinflick; and is currently working on his latest album (half of which FlyLo says appears in Kuso). On top of all that, the artist born Steven Ellison is in the midst of a 3D tour, showcasing the fantastical backdrop we've come to associate with the producer. Somehow, he's still standing.
At the Vogue Theatre last night (November 20), FlyLo performed to a sold-out crowd in Vancouver, where 3D glasses exchanged hands and the venue thundered in anticipation for his set. "Getting There" kicked in, and a colourful Flying Lotus sign popped off the screen behind him, suddenly breaking into shards of glass that shattered around the crowd as the beat dropped. It might sound gimmicky, but his use of stunning visuals has always had a place in his live shows, and is a good part of the reason to see him live. His previous shows bordered on 3D, without actually going so far, but his latest tour embraces it fully, bringing a bit of magic to a world that, particularly lately, feels sadly lacking in it.
Amid fading psychedelic Tron-like landscapes and massive, pulsating jellyfish, Flying Lotus's remake of the Twin Peaks theme burst forth, the backdrop suddenly depicting bodies in a cosmic ether deconstructing themselves. As the notes of "Computer Face//Pure Being" rose up, the screen behind the set up changed drastically, and all heads craned to take it in. The soundwaves took on an entirely different meaning as they literally spread and stretched overhead. When the fog machines started up, they blanketed the venue so heavily that the billowing plumes that erupted behind on screen were almost indistinguishable from the real thing pulsing across the crowd.
FlyLo's charm and sheer love of the craft sets him apart from many producers out there; it's hard not to fall headfirst into the show when he has a smile plastered across his face the entire time, sings along as he mixes, and puts all he has into producing a phenomenal show. His pure satisfaction and energy transferred to and lifted every single person in the room.
When "Beginner's Falafel" dropped in, the visuals moved into the realm his films tend to inhabit: eyeballs falling from the sky, animated bodies with grotesque deformities piling into a meat grinder. It was an acid trip while entirely sober, travelling the cosmos while stationary. The tone of the show shifted from the beat-heavy musings of FlyLo into a bit of beefed up funk as the set transferred into Thundercat's "Friend Zone," which gave the boisterous crowd intent on dancing a chance to do just that. It was followed closely by "Jethro," as Flying Lotus paid homage to a close friend and labelmate.
Not one to disappoint, he picked people from the crowd to shout out what they wanted to round out the set, and he delivered, blasting out "Eyes Above" while Kendrick Lamar's vocals had everyone passionately shouting along. "Never Catch Me" rounded out the night, Lamar once again flushing out the track and capping a pretty perfect set. It beats any 3D movie you'll see, that's for sure.