If you're going to throw a concert in a cemetery, you might as well invite a guy with an album entitled You're Dead!.
Los Angeles-based beat-and-filmmaker Flying Lotus and his frequent collaborator Thundercat performed at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 14 as part of the Red Music Music Academy Festival Los Angeles. FlyLo's performance served as a preview of his upcoming fall tour, which combines his head-nodding, abstract beats with an array of dazzling 3D imagery.
First up was Thundercat, who was finishing up his own hectic tour in support of his excellent new album Drunk, which was released in February. As a bassist, Thundercat is a virtuoso and his style of playing is deeply indebted to the jazz fusion pioneers of the '70s. But as a composer, his music is quite similar to yacht rock giants like Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, both of whom appeared on his song "Show You The Way."
Thundercat's live show showcases both sides of his personality, with songs like "Tron Song" expanded into goopy jazz jams while more straightforward tunes like "Bus In These Streets" remained crisp and unadorned. Though it's easy to see his influences, Thundercat assembles the component pieces to build something bigger than the sum of its parts (perhaps Voltron would have been a better '80s-derived moniker).
Hannibal Buress had a short stand-up set in between acts, riffing on the unusual setting by outlining what he wants at his own funeral (hint: it involves a video of him having sex with an appliance). Flying Lotus then took the stage behind a podium that looked like a prop from his directorial debut, the gross-out extravaganza "Kusko."
FlyLo took little time to get into his set, which featured a heavy dose of new music. Though his most recent studio album You're Dead! took a deep dive into an earthier, jazzier sound, this set favored the more sample-heavy, beat-driven productions of his earlier work. That was a smart choice because his sound complemented the 3D visuals rather than distracted from them.
And really, the 3D effects are the selling point. Even if you're not into seeing movies in 3D, the show will blow you away: removed from narrative constraints, FlyLo leans into the novelty of the technology throughout the show, with effects like tunnels, laser blasts and plumes of smoke serving as the basis for a variety of visual effects. At one point, a giant Star Destroyer floated in over the crowd and those types of cool-for-its-own-sake effects were frequent.
Still, this could all be an empty gimmick were it not for Flying Lotus' cerebral beats. Remixing his old favorites and adding a surprisingly large dollop of hip-hop courtesy of his Captain Murphy alias, the show was full of surprises, less a traditional set of established hits than an entirely new journey with a few familiar detours.
Whether you're already a fan of his music or just want to check out a unique live performance, Flying Lotus' 3D show must be seen to be believed (one of the nice byproducts is that cell phones can't possibly capture what the experience is like). Check out a few photos from the event courtesy of Red Bull above and follow this link to get tickets to select Flying Lotus dates right here on AXS.com.