Words by: Jeanne Bettencourt & Michael Urban
Photos by: Chris Paul
Anticipation for Lotus’ fall tour, commencing at Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT, reached an all time high with rumors swirling of percussionist Chuck Morris’ return. Two nights after the band started their tour to promote their recently released self-titled album, the band did a two-night stint at Higher Ground, a small club in South Burlington, VT. Playing two nights in such a musically rich environment allowed the band to really open up their catalogue and bring their fans together. For some, it even felt like a mini-summer dance. The band’s new lighting rig also provided extremely stimulating visuals to top off their ever-improving sound.
Higher Ground has quite a history behind it – several commonly known artists have graced its stage over the years. Its capacity is small – around 700 – so it provides an in intimate experience. The stage is visible from all corners of the room and the acoustics are impeccable. Beer and drinks are moderately priced and the bathrooms aren’t so bad, for a club.
Saturday night the venue was at capacity, and unless you were behind the lighting director (on a raised section with a bar) there wasn’t much room to dance. Nonetheless, the crowd was friendly and gave off a happy-go-lucky vibe. The band kicked it off with “Age of Inexperience”, and the tone was set: energetic and funky. The first set consisted of some old songs “Suitcases and Sandwiches”, but the band left room for some new ones as well, like “Lou Carcrohl” and the debut of “The Oaks”. The addition of Chuck was noticeable from the start – he added a certain energy that really got the crowd going. He also received plenty of personal appreciation from fans throughout the night.
After a short set break, the band started set two with “Spiritualize”. While I love the song, I was glad they got it out of the way early in the night/weekend. The second set was a great mix of new (“Dowrn”) and old songs. They ended the set with a personal favorite, “Wax”, which really highlighted Chuck’s sound. The prettiest song of the night was the first of the encores — “Umbilical Moonrise” – that cut into “Harps”, an upbeat tune off their newest album.
Night two was a lot less packed (a Sunday evening attracts a much different crowd) but was almost even more fun than the first. The tone of the second evening was a much mellower one than Saturday night; a much appreciated slower pace for those whom had been there the night before. “Bubonic Tonic” started off the night, and the band kept things old school with “Greet the Mind”, “Spaghetti” and “Nematode”. Set two included some newer songs including “Intro to a Cell”, Bush Pilot”, and “Lead Pipe”. They ended the second set with “Sunrain”, as fans cheered for their triumphant return to the stage. They ended the night and weekend with “Orchids” and “Tip of the Tongue”, and fans left the venue remembering how and why they fell in love with this band in the first place.