Concert review: Flying Lotus

Published at exclaim.ca

Flying Lotus / Ultragamma / Mymanhenri
Opera House, Toronto ON September 3 


California producer Flying Lotus has very quickly ascended from beat-head guru to must-see messiah. This is largely due to Cosmogramma, a record filled with swirling, accessible beats, more memorable and mesmerizing than most instrumental records you’ve heard. It’s this that took him from a small, but packed, show at Tattoo Rock Parlour last time he was in town, to a bumping, tour de force takeover of Leslieville concert hall the Opera House.

Before FlyLo’s set, Toronto bass-slingers Ultragamma and Mymanhenri went head to digital head, throwing beats back and forth via MPC and laptop. Skully, body-moving dubstep kept the crowd sweaty, as well as crowd pleasers like Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’.” After trading pretty-much exquisite, chopped up shots for an hour, Mymanhenri got on the mic to announce the warm-up was over: Flying Lotus was in the building.

At this point, the Opera House was teeming; skunky fumes began to waft through the crowd and bodies were crammed tight, faces turned expectantly toward the stage. Everyone ― from the oldest, most-in-the-zone junglist you’ve ever seen to heel-rocking girlfriends ― knew something big was about to happen. And then FlyLo jogged out to the kind of roars not usually reserved for avant-garde digital instrumentalists, but indie bands and singer-songwriters. He’s a producer through and through, and now part of a burgeoning number of touring beat makers.

For the next hour, FlyLo soared through his own cuts from albums 1983 to Cosmogramma, mixing in hip-hop favourites like Nas’s “Nas Is Like” and Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” as well Radiohead and Jodeci. The drops were incredible, the bass was tight and his breadth of knowledge so apparent. And when FlyLo closed the encore with Cosmogramma’s joyous “Do The Astral Plane,” it was hard not to think what every other person who’s been privy to that performance must think: this is the best shit ever.