This article was updated Oct. 16 at 11:55 a.m.
Attendees of Flying Lotus’ concert Saturday only needed two items – a ticket and a pair of 3-D glasses, which were given out at the venue.
Flying Lotus’ set included graphics that ranged from sleek, repeating patterns of psychedelic geometric shapes to captivating organic movements of melting faces – all in a live 3-D format.
Steven Ellison, who performs under the name Flying Lotus, played alongside multigenre artist Thundercat on Saturday night as part of the ongoing Red Bull Music Academy Festival. The Los Angeles-born duo performed on the outer Fairbanks Lawn of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery – but that was not the only twist of the night.
Surprise guest and comedian Hannibal Buress opened the concert with a monologue, alongside the screen title “The Hannibal Montanabal Experience” and a short video compilation.
A loose theme of death tied the monologue together with the venue, featuring strange anecdotes such as a discussion on whether celebrities such as LeBron James and Lil Wayne would pass before or after him. Buress also mentioned the cemetery setting throughout his set and added comedic contrast to his jokes.
Thundercat took the stage relatively quickly after Buress left, keeping the audience engaged while the sun sank below the tombstone-laden horizon. He sported a red Dodgers cap and yellow and green jacket – bright colors that echoed the energy of the set.
The visuals were simple: Thundercat’s cat head logo was projected in red against the black background, with moving light projections present as well.
“You ready to go down this rabbit hole?” he said to the crowd before launching into two songs from his latest album “Drunk.”
Thundercat played bass and sang vocals, alongside a keyboardist, a drummer and a live violinist, who all highlighted delicate details of each song and complemented the frequent bass solos that were present throughout the set. During “Tron Song,” Thundercat played a mesmerizing bass solo with intricate notes for over a minute straight.
The song choice and order was also well-planned and mastered. Thundercat’s fluid and free-form style of musical experience resounded heavily in the transitions between songs on his sets.
However, while Thundercat kept his visuals simple, Flying Lotus’ backdrop was one of the main stars of the main act. His otherworldly electronic music – a mash-up of IDM, trip hop, ambient and electronic psychedelia – achieved an almost hypnotic state when combined with 3-D motion graphics.
Light beams and shapes moved in repeating cascades matching the beat of the music, while virtual fires and expanding smoke shapes exploded alongside Flying Lotus on stage. The visuals varied throughout, including motion graphics, projections and animations.
His DJ booth resembled a “Lord of the Rings”-esque giant rock, adding to the mystical elements of the set. The booth combined bass-heavy groovy music, and vividly psychedelic visuals allowed Flying Lotus to create a unified visual and audio experience.
As the performance went on, Flying Lotus strayed from straight electronic music and began to dabble in his rap side under the alias “Captain Murphy.” “Dead Man’s Tetris,” a track featuring Captain Murphy and Snoop Dogg, had a hard, repeating beat reminiscent of his early video game soundtrack work. He also played covers of other artists’ songs with added beats and bass lines, such as his rendition of “Shine a Light” by Shabazz Palaces. The shift in genres and songs being played kept the show from becoming stagnant and repetitive.
The night ended on an unexpectedly personal note when Flying Lotus came out to talk to the crowd after his last song. The crowd expected an encore but was instead met with a touching message from the artist himself in which he emphasized how the musical vision he achieved during the set was something he never thought he would be able to share with others.
As a whole, the night was an engaging opportunity to enjoy an authentic and creative live performance.