WORDS & PHOTO: Kirsty Moreland
It’s rare that a gig gets consigned to memory within the first five minutes, but as Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus wanders on stage wearing a smart black suit and Mexican wrestling mask, it seems like this might be the exception. He takes his place behind the 3D projection structure, visibly laughing beneath his mask: “Y’all! Glasgow fuckin’ goes for it, right?!”
As the great nephew of John Coltrane, Flying Lotus is already renowned for his eclectic fusions; his latest album ‘You’re Dead!’ is an appeal to the notion of transcendence, his response to the numerous family and friends he has lost in recent years. As though underscoring the point, his set opens with a sensory barrage so mesmerising it makes the 02ABC feel like a scene from ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. A soundscape of ethereal synths and electronic bursts explode from the stage, the star occasionally tossing his head back like a madman, electrified in his own moment. Before him, retina-burning, kaleidoscopic visuals dance across the layered screens, ebbing and flowing in time with his trademark hip hop bass.
The atmosphere is electric. A glance backward reveals a room full of wide eyes and gaping mouths, and then suddenly the lights dim. The shadowy figure of Thundercat emerges from backstage like a shaman, swathed head-to-toe in fur and toting a guitar. Grinning as he occupies the spotlight, he strums through the track ‘DMT Song’, his falsetto voice delivering the sermon to a now entranced crowd. As the acidic laser show kicks back in Flying Lotus reappears and the two embark on a jamming session that somehow incorporates guitar, drum and bass into a track composed of Legend of Zelda sound effects. It’s an unlikely combination, something that appears not to be lost on the two performers, as they laugh contagiously at one another throughout.
In a final flourish, Fly-Lo casts off his mask and steps out onstage to unleash his hip-hop alter ego, Captain Murphy. The cult-like crowd mouth the lyrics as he raps, and it’s clear at this point that Steven Ellison could stand before us knitting and probably still garner applause.
From start to finish Flying Lotus captivated. When speaking of his new album, he said he wanted to celebrate the “transition and the confusion of death”; without doubt his show intoxicated fans with precisely that feeling.