music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Lotus

January 6, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



Few bands can toe the line between jam and electronica the way that Lotus does. Every summer they can be found at a wide variety of festivals. They’ll be at a jam band show one week and an electronic music festival the next. They can put together massive dance sets or pay tribute to The Talking Heads. Much of their success has come from the EDM scene, but they are a part of SCI Fidelity Records. They’re a band full of these sorts of contradictions, but they bring it all together in one great show.

One of the things that sets Lotus apart from their contemporaries in the electronic music scene is the fact that they don’t rely on sampling. Sampling allows artists to put together live performances that would often be nearly impossible with a full band. Lotus doesn’t shy away from that, however, and the five-piece group is able to create a dance party with very little sampling. Bassist Jesse Miller will do some sampling, but Luke Miller’s keys and synth along with Chuck Morris’s unique percussion style means that the band does not have to rely on that crutch. While Lotus certainly isn’t the first live electronic band, their influence is currently being seen with the emergence of newer acts like Papadosio.

Lotus didn’t even begin as an instrumental, electronic band. When the members got together in college, they started out primarily as a jam band with funk and electronic elements. It was after a couple of years on this path that their style shifted to the instrumental side. Other similar acts such as STS9 and The Disco Biscuits were on the rise at this time, and Lotus was close enough to those bands to find a home in the scene. They certainly didn’t want to be generalized, however. They went out of their way to be the only instrumental band at rock festivals or the only live band at electronic shows. This allowed them to present their live shows to a diverse audience, and audiences quickly took notice.

Those live shows turned into a full-on multi-sensory experience. The band has consistently put together one of the most impressive visual shows around. It’s particularly impressive since the band typically plays smaller theaters. This all allows the fans to truly experience a stadium-quality show in a small venue. The band also doesn’t hesitate to try new things. The band did a Talking Heads themed set at Gathering of the Vibes. They’ve also done a robot theme, a Black Sabbath show, and a show featuring music from video games. Overall, the band has made their way through touring and putting all of their energy into their live performances.

Of course their studio albums have all been very solid as well. The band has released a variety of studio, remix, and live albums, and, since 2009’s Oil on Glass/Feather on Wood they’ve been very prolific with their releases. While my personal favorite is 2013’s Build, each album presents a new side of the band and gives them an ever-increasing live repertoire. They’ve also moved back and forth from releasing albums on various labels, including SCI Fidelity and Harmonized, to releasing albums on their own or through their own Lotus Vibes Music imprint. 2016 saw the release of Eat the Light, followed with the B-side collection Drink the Light.

Overall Lotus has done quite a bit to set themselves apart from the pack. Their live show typically turns into a massive dance party, they release intricate studio albums, and their songs are instrumental without getting repetitive. It’s an impressive career that they’ve built up, and they’re continuing to grow. With their festival appearances every year as well as their annual Summerdance festival, they have a lot of momentum heading in the right direction.



Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds in Mexico
January 12-14
Riviera Maya, MX
3 nights of Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds as well as Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Brandi Carlisle, and Joseph

Gov’t Mule’s Island Exodus
January 13-17
Jewel Paradise Cove
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes, JJ Grey & Mofro

Jam in the Sand
January 18-22
Jewel Paradise Cove
Ruanaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, Hot Tuna, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Jam Cruise
January 17-22
Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Maceo Parker, Lotus, Lettuce, Gramatik, Keller Williams, The New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk, Turkuaz, The Main Squeeze

Gem & Jam
January 25-28
Tuscon, AZ
STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Breaking Biscuits, Emancipator, Railroad Earth

Panic En La Playa
January 26-30
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Widespread Panic (4 shows), Playa Allstars, The Cleaners, Big Something, Dave Shaw, Marcus King, Cris Jacobs

Winter WonderGrass
February 21-23
Steamboat Springs, CO
Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Elephant Revival, Horseshoes & Handgrenades, Travelin’ McCoury’s, Fruition, Billy Strings

Winter Wondergrass Tahoe
April 6-8
Squaw Valley, CA
The Devil Makes Three, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, The California Honeydrops, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, The Lil’ Smokies

Wannee Festival
April 19-21
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, North Mississippi Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 20-22
Centennial Park
Atlanta, GA
Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sturgill Simpson, Vulfpeck, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Papadosio, The Record Company, Spafford, Southern Avenue

April 26-29
Wilkes Community College
Wilkesboro, NC
Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Sam Bush, The Devil Makes Three, Donna the Buffalo, The Way Down Wanderers, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones

Charm City Bluegrass Festival
April 27-28
Druid Hill Park
Baltimore, MD
The Devil Makes Three, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Steeldrivers, Jeff Austin Band, Billy Strings, Larry Keel Experience

May 17-19
Fort Royale Farm
Bedford, PA
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

May 24-27
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Bluegrass Congress, Old Crow Medicine Show, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Jerry Douglas Band, The Wood Brothers, Elephant Revival, Fruition, Billy Strings

Summer Camp
May 25-27
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee

Dark Star Jubilee
May 25-27
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Dark Star Orchestra, Los Lobos, Infamous Stringdusters, Hot Tuna, The Nth Power, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Music on the Mothership
June 1-3
Taos, NM
Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Rising Appalachia, Antibalas, Assembly of Dust, Fruition, Nicki Bluhm, Melvin Seals

June 7-10
Manchester, TN

Blue Ox Music Festival
June 14-16
Eau Claire, WI
Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, Del McCoury Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Margo Price, Billy Strings

Electric Forest Weekend 1
June 21-24
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Andy Frasco & The UN, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

Electric Forest Weekend 2
June 28-July 1
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

July 25-29
Floyd, VA
Foster the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!