“The first thing I learned about Ireland, I was at some festival and a kid was like, ‘you want any yokes?’, and I was like ‘what the fuck are yokes?’”. Flying Lotus, aka Stephen Ellison, endears himself to the crowd from the off with a bit of the local lingo. Although, when he indicates that he declined the offer, the crowd, showing their colours, mock-boo his decision.
Wearing his patented Death Veil mask with two glowing orbs for eyes and a snout reminiscent of Zoidberg from Futurama, Flying Lotus takes his place behind his modestly adorned desk – just a MacBook and a mixer – looking like he’s wandered in off the set of an alien B-movie. In front of him is what looks like a bullet-proof shield: a five-sided Perspex construct which allows seamless 3-D visuals to flow from the front to the back of the stage. This really is Vicar Street as you’ve never seen it before. In fact it feels like the only pills being consumed tonight are the famous red pills that drop you into the Matrix.
The hungry mob bobs, nods and rocks to every cue that Ellison bestows upon them. The drum and bass stylings of Kill Your Coworkers give way to Computer Face//Pure Being without a pause for breathe. Never shy of covering other hip hop numbers either as Flying Lotus or as his rapping alter ego, Captain Murphy, Eyes Above features one of several Kendrik Lamar samples we get during the set and Chance The Rapper gets a chance to rap over some cosmic nuclear seaweed visuals. Then a pause for breathe as Ellison introduces “the fun part of the night”, and with that Thundercat makes his entrance. Like Prince, but playing bass and covered in fur (he’s wearing a lion headdress), his virtuoso stylings augment the warped and thunderous beats that Flying Lotus flings about with abandon as they bounce through Descent Into Madness and Getting There.
It clearly gets a bit too warm for Ellison behind the mask as he removes it to reveal himself as human after all. With that, it has to be said, some of the surreal illusion is removed. There follows a series of songs where Thundercat’s ever-present doodles become increasingly irrelevant and his significance fades to that fuzzy toy hanging from your rear view mirror, but even during these lulls the startling visuals keep coming, never allowing your attention to stray too far. Kendrik Lamar is sampled again on Never Catch Me, a thrilling collaboration between two men at the top of their game, and Clock Catcher from ‘Cosmogramma’ close things out.
An intense trip down the rabbit hole with the genre-defying Flying Lotus. Unlike the Matrix, no one here was wishing they’d taken the blue pill.