Lotus Plaza | 07.09.12

lotplaz 75Lockett is known to be rather shy, but something about this night must have brought him out of his shell.

 

LotPlaz 500

Mojo’s, Columbia, Mo.

You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Mojo’s for consistently bringing acts to the halfway point between St. Louis and Kansas City that are more than worthy of talking about. The small venue gives a great up-close-and-personal feel to all of the shows that they host, a closeness that then makes the sound melt over the audience. Oftentimes, too, the artists will interact with patrons before performing. Over the past few years, fewer large acts have made it to the area, but Mojo’s has kept up their commitment to the local music scene by bringing indie darlings to the small college town. Lotus Plaza was no exception.

When a band can connect itself to Bradford Cox, it raises interest, so let’s try a side project of the acclaimed Deerhunter. Lockett Pundt is a somewhat unknown name, at least to most who don’t manage to read music blogs every day, but is a name that deserves more attention. In 2009, Pundt released the debut album of his side project Lotus Plaza with an almost-ignored record, The Floodlight Collective. Perhaps the main reason for the album being mostly overlooked was the inability of the act to play the songs live.

In April 2012, Lotus Plaza followed up their debut album with Spooky Action at a Distance. The emphasis of the record was to create songs that Lockett and Co. could perform live, solidifying the act as something more than studio artists. So when I heard that they were going to be playing in Columbia, I had to see the show.

The atmosphere was actually pretty great for a Monday night, as many fans packed into the small Mojo’s to watch the act. Having listened to the album fairly intensely, I thought that I knew exactly what I was in for, but there were some surprises. Lockett is known to be rather shy, but something about this night must have brought him out of his shell. He urged everyone in the audience to download an air horn app to their smartphones to fill the silence in between tracks, and interacted with the crowd on more than one occasion.

The standout performance of the night to me was that of “Out of Touch,” a track on the new LP that was recorded with a very balanced flow of sound and an emphasis on the keys. During the live performance, it was interesting to hear the changed emphasis—perhaps in an attempt to grab more attention—to one that used fuzzed-out guitars to lead the melody. This was a welcome addition in my mind, and paid more tribute to what I think the band is trying to accomplish. Despite the volume of their sound and the energy of the performance, all of the members maintained their stoic appearances, while causing the majority of the audience to nod, dance, or tap to the rhythm.

Following later with “Dusty Rhodes,” the live performance ditched the use of acoustic guitars for electric. The change would not have been noticeable had one not heard the recording. The electric guitars added a whole new element to what was already a great track. The other notable difference, and not just during this song, was that the vocal tracks were deeper and seemed to contain more warmth. On the recordings, Lockett sounds fairly young, almost innocent, which plays into the connection with Bradford Cox and Atlas Sound, but live, his vocals seemed much more impressive.

Overall, the performance was one that didn’t have any real energy to it, and while it managed to get a good number of people engaged, there was nonetheless something missing. That feeling that one has after a truly great performance—big smile on your face, the urge to tell your friends about it—it just wasn’t there. The sound was good, the performances were spot on, but it was somehow incomplete.

I would recommend seeing Lotus Plaza if you have the chance. Although they touched on greatness, the band members still need to develop their own stage presence. I was impressed by their sound and ability to recreate the recordings, but hope for more their next time through town. | Alex Hodschayan


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