To describe Flying Lotus’ performance as ‘weird’ would be an understatement. His face is covered by a mask with cut-out illuminated eyes, he steps into his futuristic space cube, and pronounces us all ‘dead’ before laughing psychotically and blasting the audience through a vivid one and a half hours of mind-warping chaos.
The giant canvas cube structure is the centrepiece of the performance; projecting psychedelic, jaw dropping 3D visuals designed by Strangeloop and Timeboy, it makes it feel as if the whole venue has been sucked into a trippy Star Trek adventure. If the cube is his laboratory and Ellison is the mad scientist, then the musical-visual experience is Frankenstein’s monster.
The music is, of course, equally as mind-blowing as the visuals. ‘Coronus, the Terminator,’ ‘Puty Boy Strut’ and ‘Zodiac Shit’ all receive big receptions from the crowd, however it is not until the appearance of Thundercat halfway through the set, do the audience start to engage completely. Taking things down a notch momentarily, Thundercat reels off a stripped-down, six-string bass rendition of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Complexion,’ using the song as an interlude to make reference to the death of Freddie Gray, stating that black lives, and indeed, all lives matter.
Other than the tangible trap beats that accent the more experimental tracks, the influence of Hip-Hop is prevalent throughout the gig. Wobbling bass, futuristic synths, and periodic 16 bar verses from FlyLo’s alter-ego, Captain Murphy, as well as a remix of Drake’s ‘Know Yourself,’ Dr Dre’s ‘Let Me Ride,’ and the FlyLo and Thundercat produced ‘Wesley’s Theory’ from Kendrick Lamar’s latest offering, indicate how huge an impact Hip-Hop has on FlyLo’s music.
Flying Lotus a.k.a. Steve Ellison fuses countless elements from Hip-Hop to Electronic to Jazz (Ellison is the grand-nephew of Alice Coltrane) to form a sound that is wacky, weird and wonderful, and sits well above any other experimental music I’ve heard before.
The LA native has an aptly multicoloured, boundless approach to his art both visually and sonically. If the material from You’re Dead! is incredible, the live performance is nothing short of spectacular. Ellison is superbly talented, and continues to push the envelope creatively in his music. His live show is out of this world, borderline alien.
Saving his best ‘til last, Ellison propels the Manchester Academy into the stratosphere by ending with his Kendrick Lamar collaboration ‘Never Catch Me,’ and leaves the faithful singing in chorus.
Given the extraordinary performance, it seems as though the portal to the afterlife is only one giant mesmerizing hypercube and a plethora of mind-melting music away. Flying Lotus brings a whole heap of mind blowing beats along with his spectacular 3D hypercube to deliver a show that is very much out of this world.