While on his Flamagra North American Tour, electronic artist Flying Lotus (FlyLo) performed at the House of Blues in Boston on Aug. 27 to promote his latest release, “Flamagra” (2019). One of his most thematically consistent albums to date, “Flamagra” is a unique listening experience, fusing jazz, hip-hop and rock (to name a few) with electronic music. The album also boasts excellent guest feature contributions from the likes of Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon and Thundercat.
Three opening acts were featured before FlyLo took the stage. First to take the stage was PBDY, an Los Angeles-based DJ signed through Brainfeeder, FlyLo’s record label. PBDY definitely helped bring the energy by dancing at his setup and playing around with his laptop and MPC to create some fast-tempo beats.
PBDY then invited Salami Rose Joe Louis onto the stage to perform a set of experimental low-fi pop music. Her swift keyboard playing and lulling voice, along with painting-like visuals projected onto a large screen behind her, created a very welcoming vibe. While the energy was nearly polar opposite from PBDY’s set, fans expressed the same enjoyment of Salami Rose Joe Louis’ music. Some of the tunes she played come off of her album “Zdenka 2080,” which she announced was releasing the following Friday, Aug. 30, on Brainfeeder.
Once her performance concluded, a video tribute to the late producer/DJ Ras G played on the screen. Ras G, a prominent figure in the underground LA beat scene, passed away on July 29 and was a heavy influence for many, including Fly Lot.
Following this segment, Brandon Coleman, another LA-native and signee to Brainfeeder, performed the third and final opening act. With help from his band, known collectively as Spacetalker, Coleman blessed the crowd with an impressive vocal performance and prodigy-like pianowork. Coleman described his music as “like jazz, but outer space-y.” Highlights from his set included tribute songs to legendary piano player Bill Evans and pop idol Prince. Once Coleman finished his set, PBDY came back on stage with more hard beats. Before performing one of his songs, he requested that Salami Rose Joe Louis come back on stage to perform a singer/producer duet.
Then, once Spacetalker and PBDY cleared the stage, an animation of random FlyLo video clips appeared on the screen. Once this video concluded, the screen instructed the crowd to put on their 3D glasses, given to each concert-goer for free at the start of the show. Just before FlyLo took the stage, the music video for his song “Fire is Coming” (2019) came up on the screen. While David Lynch was giving his eerie introduction of spoken word, FlyLo came on stage, greeted by an uproar of applause. Then, as David Lynch began chanting “Fire is coming! Fire is coming!”, the stage appeared to light on fire, thanks to some amazing 3D effects.
Then, FlyLo brought the house down. His set included various songs from his “Flamagra” project, like “Takashi” and “Black Balloons Reprise (feat. Denzel Curry),” along with tracks from previous albums in his discography. There were many fascinating ways that the graphics enhanced the performance. Examples of this include a rotating triangle that appeared to float directly over FlyLo’s setup, a starry landscape that filled the venue, and a trippy effect that made it appear like he was flying through a windy cave.
Fortunately, 3D visual effects weren’t the only aspect of the concert that made it enjoyable. FlyLo made sure that his fans wouldn’t find his show predictable. First, FlyLo stepped off of his setup to rap live under his MC alias Captain Murphy. Second, to follow up on the video montage given earlier, the album cover for Ras G’s “Back on the Planet” (2013) appeared on the screen, as FlyLo performed Ras G’s song “Been Cosmic” (2013). Then, one of Flamagra’s lead singles, “More (feat. Anderson .Paak)” (2019) came on, which was also greeted with cheers of joy. However, after the beat change, Anderson .Paak’s verse was replaced with an unreleased verse from the late rapper Mac Miller. FlyLo kept this second version of “More” hidden until his tour began in mid-August. Toward the end, FlyLo hosted a singalong of the song “Them Changes” (2015) by bassist and close friend Thundercat.
After FlyLo left the stage, the audience demanded an encore. FlyLo complied, saying “okay, okay… but I want Brandon out here to help me out!” Brandon Coleman came back out onto the stage, keytar in hand. FlyLo also mentioned that “we haven’t really danced yet. I mean, I’ve seen y’all dancing earlier, but let’s ACTUALLY dance. So, can I have all the dancers please come to the front?” Audience members scrambled to the front of the stage as FlyLo’s “Do the Astral Plane” (2010) came on. Nearly everyone moved to the rhythm of the closing song. FlyLo brought an eccentric and otherworldly experience to every fan in the House of Blues crowd.