lying Lotus is one of those artists that seems to resist any type of categorization that is applied to them. One could categorize Flying Lotus as just a producer or 'beat-maker' but that would ignore his rapper alias, Captain Murphy, and his intense relationship with jazz music that stems from his familial relations to the Coltrane's. One could then expand their definition to 'avant-garde sound artist' but this still doesn't cut it. FlyLo also has a close connection to visual stimuli vis-a-vis his pursuits in film paired with his incredible collaborations with Adult Swim. He also dedicated a large amount of time founding the infamous LA label known as Brainfeeder. Although Ellison is able to create through a variety of mediums they all come together in his live shows that also happen to be in 3D.

Flying Lotus' 'FLAMAGRA' tour descended upon Chicago's Vic Theatre in late August as a redemption show for the cancelled Mamby on the Beach Festival. The night began with a series of Brainfeeder acts that set the stage in very unique ways. Salami Rose Joe Louis taught the crowd how to "DJ-travel" with her while PBDY provided some spastic beats that got everyone in the large venue moving. Brandon Coleman took over soon after with a set of space-funk jams that carried an energy similar to Sun-Ra, this sort of music not only speaks to the ears but the soul as well. After Coleman's set, PBDY took over once again to introduce a surprise guest that happened to be Hannibal Buress!

In order to preserve the musical vibe Buress performed a short, yet hilarious stand-up set with a theremin for punchline sound effects. At this point, one could see that Flying Lotus had been carefully curating the entire night from his choice of musically-disparate openers to a surprise guest that effectively shifted the environment from a listening multitude to a comprehending audience. This shift from simple listening to comprehension and analysis was the perfect segue for Flying Lotus' set because it would involve both.

The headlining set began with the anti-music video that features a haunting spoken word piece delivered by David Lynch that ends with a looping phrase, 'Fire is Coming!'. Ellison, donning a large black robe, then approached his DJ altar that beckons both to the past and future with it's stone-like exterior being offset by flashing lights and a mini-screen.

The crowd was then immersed into the Flying Lotus universe with flashing images of fire, lighting, and outer space being paired with his thought-provoking soundscapes. To experience Flying Lotus in 3D is an exercise in hyper-stimulation where the observer must rid themselves of any preconceived boundaries between music and cinema to experience it correctly. This isn't a concert but it isn't a movie, it's something in between. Flying Lotus’ concerts bring together the sonic deep ends of hip-hop with surrealistic scenes of zombies walking through apocalyptic deserts and it produces a calming, serene effect. At this point, one begins to realize the Flying Lotus is not just a music-maker or film-maker but a curator of experience that utilizes the abilities of our human senses to transport us into another dimension. Flying Lotus’ ‘FLAMAGRA’ tour continues with dates in Brooklyn, Nashville, Atlanta and more.

Photos by
Pedro Acosta