Pics by Sally Townsend
This was a feast for the mind.
Remember ten years ago when Avatar hit cinemas and the masses proclaimed that 3D films were going to revolutionise cinema forever? I think my retinas are still trying to recover from the torturous visuals burnt into them that day – what was promised to be a sci-fi Last of the Mohicans-inspired epic turned out more to be like The Blue Man Group meets the Ludovico technique. In short, 3D is possibly one of the worst cinema gimmicks to have ever existed.
Needless to say, when Flying Lotus announced he’d be accompanying his live shows with a totally improvised 3D light show, I was curious enough to shelve my prejudice for a hot minute. If there’s anyone suited to such woozy, off-kilter visuals, it’s him – listen to any of his records from the past decade and I can guarantee you’ll slump into a kaleidoscopic, kick-drum-induced abyss at some point. After gritting my teeth through a painfully homogenised Hottest 100 mere hours before, it was fair to say I was more than keen to have my senses punished by some off-grid Zodiac Shit.
As the crowd spilled into the Forum and toyed with their yellow 3D glasses, Warp Records veteran Mark Pritchard took to the decks to throw down an almighty set of drum ‘n bass, grime and breakbeat. Pritchard’s an OG in this realm of dance music, and the crowd lapped up his mixing skills, albeit rigidly, while a lone tree lingered on the screen in the background for a splash of ambience.
After a short tribute to the late Ras G aired on the screen, we were prompted to don our specs and settle in for the show. Flying Lotus took to the stage with David Lynch’s ominous voiceover for ‘Fire Is Coming’ crackling overhead (an incredibly apt set-opener if there ever was one), hurtling thereafter into a dense orgy of kick drums and sub-bass as he mashed and melded his tracks into long, winding entities. With the low-frequencies bludgeoning my diaphragm to the tune of ‘Fkn Dead’ and an unsuspecting, yet not unwelcome rendition of ‘(Crank That) Soulja Boy’, it was all go from here.
Just as unflappable from behind his production podium as he was stalking the stage to spit verses from his rap alter ego Captain Murphy, FlyLo’s presence was an understated highlight of the performance. Whether launching into the staggered groove of ‘Burning Down The House’ or the jazzy, Dilla-inflected stomper ‘Coronus, The Terminator’, his confident demeanour offered itself as an anchor to latch onto amidst the semi-controlled sonic chaos. On that note, now’s probably the perfect time to note that the improvised 3D element of this set was far less overwhelming than I anticipated – never once did it divert focus away from the performance, and it truly complemented the surreality of the situation to gaze around at a sea of 3D goggles in the crowd.
Following ‘Black Balloons (Reprise)’ and a version of ‘More’ with an alternate Mac Miller verse, Lotus concluded the main portion of his set with ‘Never Catch Me’; which still boasts one of Kendrick’s best features put to tape. A brief sojourn ended when FlyLo returned to stage to play Thundercat’s new single ‘Black Qualls’ and fan-favourite ‘Them Changes’, beckoning for the crowd to lose it one last time as he departed the stage to the irresistibly funky Cosmogramma cut ‘Do The Astral Plane’. Leaving with a heart full of bass and eyeballs only slightly melted from the 3D visuals, I think I can honestly die happy after that experience – sheesh.
Highlights: ‘Them Changes’ lurching into ‘Do The Astral Plane’.
Lowlights: My eyes hurt.
Crowd favourite: Cranking that to ‘(Crank That) Soulja Boy’.