By The Insomniac
Topping our list of best acts of Bonnaroo is none other than Steven Ellison, AKA Flying Lotus, who battled it out with other electronic acts to draw the late night crowd on Friday night going into the weekend.
Setting up in front of his massive projector screen and behind a second more opaque white screen as has been the setup of his live performances this year, Flylo took the stage armed with a creepy mask, maybe his shot at wacky headgear with EDM powerhouse Deadmau5 playing at the same time across the field. Before the music started and the lights on the screen in front and in back of him came to life, the only shapes you could make out were the glowing enlarged eyes on his mask and the Apple logo on his Mac as he readied the show.
This wasn’t certainly the loudest show we saw, and not even close to the biggest crowd, but the anticipation was like no other. As soon as his show started, he completely melted the already scorched crowd with his churning, mechanical, haunting beats. The screens gave birth to the most intricate light show I’ve ever seen with morphing shapes, human figures, snapshots of nature, and even a rotating skull. It was a sort of dream sequence set to the beat of his music, a truly vivid lucidity that felt almost unsettling as it seemed to engulf you with it’s presence. Compared with Bassnectar’s visuals which were merely highly contrasted, kaleidoscoping colors with no real shape at all, Flylo’s images were delicate and told a very slow story to the high paced percussion he is known for in the backbone of the meandering melancholy within his tracks. Going back and forth between crowd favorites like “Zodiac Shit”, new tracks from his recent LP You’re Dead!, and even stepping out from behind his laptop to rap for the crowd, every second had the audience captivated.
His music is maddening and penetrating in some sort of carnal way – a sound perfect for the psychotic and relentless neon wasteland Bonnaroo became by this point. At one point Lotus grabbed a totem from the crowd with a severed doll head attached to the top, and peered out into the crowd in utter disbelief. “What the fuck is this?” he asked, only to be hit with a roar of laughter and cheers – the type of response you’d expect from a mental patient who escaped from the asylum, what I consider to be an accurate description of the gorgeously devolved groupthink crowds at Bonnaroo embodied by this time of night. Smiling, he let the inanimate head “lipsync” to the song playing in the background, and, seemingly impressed with the head’s performance, began to kiss the totem in an Oscar-worthy display of lust. For me, this sums up the festival. The weirdest of the weird, contorting our bodies to primal drums and exhausting, mind-searing synth melodies, and losing ourselves completely, all while the dancing masked man on the platform above us makes out with his follower’s bloody war pike. Insanity. To say the least it was a hell of a show, and it wiped out any remaining doubt in coming back next year. Let’s see if we can top it next go-around.