As we enter the Forum, 3D glasses are distributed and our sense of excitement about what we are about to experience bubbles over. Although Flying Lotus has already toured the globe with these 3D shows – which feature imagery created by longtime collaborators Strangeloop and Timeboy – for a couple of years now, both the music and visuals are improvised live to ensure no two performances are the same.
Header photo and all included images: Duncan Jacobs
Time to secure a fabulous vantage point that’s preferably behind a handrail we can hold onto, just in case proceedings take a disorienting, trippy turn!
The house lights dim and an instruction appears on the giant LED screen: “Please put on your 3D glasses.” We then watch in awe as kids in wolf suits brawl on the screen and our eyes adjust to the vibrant, high-definition 3D imagery. After a siren, the children sit as if in preparation for storytime before a ‘wolf’ is wheeled out. The wolf’s neck then appears to snap before David Lynch’s head is revealed inside the mouth. Aha! This is the music video that accompanies Fire Is Coming by Flying Lotus (from his latest album, 2019’s Flamagra – our review of which you can read here).
Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison to his Mum) materialises behind the console, dressed in all black and with dreads flying. Throughout this performance, FlyLo basically does his thing in darkness while the clarity of these 3D visuals transports us down kaleidoscopic rabbit holes. As the gorgeous, vivid, on-screen imagery swirls and separates, scattered punters reach out to touch imaginary objects while pulsing to the beat, and we feel like part of the show with our 3D glasses firmly in place.
Flying Lotus resembles the Star Wars franchise’s DJ of choice up there behind a customised console, which features a carved facade that wouldn’t look out of place on a Game Of Thrones set. Ellison occasionally comes around from behind his console to stalk the stage and spit some bars, and we recognise Cosplay by Captain Murphy (FlyLo’s animated rapper alter ego). Sounds as crisp as shattering glass elevate the funky bounce of Do The Astral Plane while Flying Lotus orchestrates circle pits in specific sections of the crowd: “I wanna see a circle happening right here! Open up this area!”
At regular intervals the artist’s name appears on the huge screen in a 3D font that looks like it’s been carved from blocks of ice. Completely mesmerised by the imagery, we feel like someone must’ve spiked the punch bowl with acid. It’s wildly transcendent stuff, and when the Flamagra album artwork comes to life in full 3D glory, our noodles are collectively cooked; this is as close as we’ll ever get to experiencing synaesthesia.
Long after the house lights illuminate, many punters mill about inside the venue, slack-jawed and wearing matching ‘what just happened?’ expressions. A sonic artist and true innovator, Flying Lotus continues to astound with every boundlessly creative turn. So what’s next on Ellison’s agenda? We simply cannot wait to find out.