Review: Flying Lotus in 3D at Roseland 11/22/17
Written by Ricardo Wang on November 28, 2017
I went to this show mostly familiar with Flying Lotus‘ remarkable 2010 album of spiritual and experimental post-hip hop instrumentals Cosmograma. He’s done plenty of great work since that album, but that was my touchstone. I knew that he is Alice Coltrane’s nephew and equally fluent in free jazz, electro, and spiritual meditations, often all in the same song. I walked into the Roseland blissfully unaware that in addition to pulling heavily from his newer material Kuso (soundtrack to his Sundance featured film) and the album You’re Dead, his music would be accompanied by shockingly effective state of the art 3D visual projections.
Opener Seven Davis Jr. (of Houston Texas) set a strikingly traditional hip hop tone to the proceedings. His soul conscious vocals raps were very personal and oh so tight. High energy Philly MC Tierra Whack continued the old school hip hop vibe with a crowd pleasing set. Her dj was a white new wave mixer creating a very interesting contrast to her pure hip hop bite. Suddenly, final opener L.A.’s PBDY transported us back to the golden age of electro ’90s rave beats. As each of these artists performed I began to see the broader picture. They were all mining energies and aesthetics that Flying Lotus’ own music brings so seamlessly together. Tierra Whack referred to FL as “The Master” with a sincere reverence. Soon we would see why.
I looked around at the mostly white, young, indie-rock crowd at the Roseland. I was further impressed at FL’s ability to fuse all these genres and styles. From the roots of hip hop through free jazz, experimental music, and club electro he makes it all palatable to audiences who don’t necessarily come from any of that music. I find myself comparing him favorably to Afrika Bambaataa. Flying Lotus bring today that kind of historical impact on hip hop in popular culture. But as he emerged on stage to the throbbing 3D visuals, it became clear this wasn’t “Planet Rock” this was “Interplanetary Rock”.
I brought a friend with me who was less than enthusiastic towards hip hop. However, he was quite taken by all of the performers of the night. Flying Lotus deserves credit as a sort of cultural missionary. Albeit a highly psychedelic cultural missionary. The show was mesmerizing and the sold out crowd appeared transfixed. Some moved to beats; some just stared at the hypnotic projections. There was a feeling nobody wanted it to end. I certainly didn’t. This was the kind of show I needed to move around. It had to be experienced from different parts of the theater. From as close as possible to the top of the balcony. Sound and images were fascinating from every vantage.
This was the last show of the 3D tour, and so FL ended his set turning around and donning his own 3D spectacles. He checked out the visuals for the first time on stage. He seemed pleased. He should be.