Lotus Plaza Builds on Studio Material Live at Mercury Lounge

July 19th, 2012

Lotus Plaza – Mercury Lounge – July 18, 2012

It’s obvious, but I’ll write it anyway: What I hear is not what you hear. My ears are different than yours. Recently, I’ve felt a small pressurized balloon squeeze against my right cochlea. I pinch my nose and blow out through my ears to clear the tubes. I get a pop, crackle and then nothing. It stays the same. So, what I’m about to tell you is what I heard.

Live, Lotus Plaza is dense. It doesn’t necessarily follow from the latest album, Spooky Action at a Distance. On it, Lockett Pundt, guitarist for Deerhunter and project manager of Lotus Plaza, balances vocal melodies and guitar work. The result is a somewhat heavy, often breezy set of songs, kissing cousins with Real Estate’s surf-rock update. That was not so much the case live. From the wailing guitar bends on show-opener “White Galactic One” onward, the four-man stage crew supporting Lotus Plaza buried Pundt’s vocals in a downpour of instrumentation. Gone was the light touch that gave Spooky Action at a Distance a summer-soaked feel—in its place was a broad sonic singularity.

A blanket of sound covered the audience by the time the band got to “Strangers.” I felt reverberations at the edge of my skin and on the back of my head. And while a machine-gun cadence of drums periodically peaked out of the mix, the music echoed the lighting: a soft red glow, which left the room mostly dark but with a hint of visibility. My mind wandered to visions of fields and ocean, which seemed like the point. If shoegaze, a working title for Lotus Plaza’s brand of music, is taken literally, you look down and get lost in your thoughts and the floor. You’re locked into a rhythm, so your head starts to bob. It is loud, hypnotic music for daydreamers. And it sounded good to me. —Jared Levy