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A Sunsational variety of tunes

CAITLIN MORRIS
summit daily news

Copper Mountain’s 10th Annual Sunsation celebration offers myriad ways to worship the sun and ring in the coming of spring with a weekend full of on-mountain competition and live music. The Sunsation line-up this weekend includes a slew of reggae-infused California rockers, some good ole American blues rock, a band that features a harpist, and a dance-tastic live electronic Sunsation veteran.

This weekend features headlining performances by reggae-dub rock luminaries, Pepper on Saturday, and two performances by jam-tronica darlings Lotus, who will be performing a “Sunsation Session After Dark” in the Copper Conference Center on Saturday and on Sunday in Burning Stones Plaza.

This will be the third year that Lotus performs at Sunsation. The band opened for Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead cover band, in 2007 and Matisyahu in 2008. This will be its first headlining appearance and first time playing two shows at Copper Mountain in the same weekend.

Lotus bassist Luke Miller said that many Lotus fans are willing to attend multiple shows because the band’s vast and diverse catalog of music allows the musicians to bring a different vibe to each performance. For daytime shows, Luke said the band “tends to bring more up tempos to keep things moving along and really dance friendly.”

For the evening show, Lotus plans to use a slightly pared down version of its massive light rig and will perform a set that is a bit more off-the-cuff.

“We’ll probably stretch it out a bit more, use more extended improvisation and have a more diverse set list,” Miller said.

Lotus is known for its danceable drum beats, funky driving grooves and infectiously bright major guitar riffs that move back and fourth between playful and epic.

“I usually say (our music) is dance-rock,” he said. “The reason I pick that term is it’s so boring and generic it will get people out to the shows. But Lotus does many different things, from playing post-rock to French house to German Kraut rock.”

The band has, according to Miller, delved even further into electronic sounds and textures, which is a slight departure from the more rock-laden sound featured on its last full-length album, “Hammerstrike” and EPs “Oil on Glass” and “Feathers on Wood,” which Miller noted all came from the same recording sessions. The emphasis of the electronic element has elevated Lotus shows into tremendously energetic dance parties.

“People don’t dance at other shows like they do at a Lotus show,” Miller said, explaining that the band draws a lot of inspiration from the audience.

“I think it’s a fun show, and the band takes a lot of chances. We can be surprised as much as our audience is by our improvisation. The crowd energy directs where we’re going,” Miller said.

Pepper will headline the first day of music at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday in Burning Stones Plaza. Originally from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, the band knows a thing or two about fun in the sun.

“It’s not like a concert; it’s just like we’re hanging out with everyone,” said Pepper Drummer Yesod Williams. “Hopefully we bring the aloha spirit.”

This will be the first performance for the band after a six month hiatus that the band took to spend more time in the studio. The musicians are currently working on a new album and keeping their catalog fresh for the fans.

“We’ve revamped some old songs. There are so many fans that have seen us 10 times or 50 times, and we don’t want to play the same things every time,” Williams said.

Pepper formed in 1996 and plays a style of reggae-dub rock characteristic of the musicians’ current home, Southern California. Williams said that Pepper is embarking on a new chapter of its career, and that, as such, it feels like it’s a whole new band.

“We’re getting back to our roots. We’ve got a lot more of that flavor going on … So it’s like we’ve got that young spirit from back in the day, but we have gone through so much, so I think we can do it in an even better way,” Williams said.

“This is the most we’ve ever collaborated together on music and lyrics and stuff. Now we get together in a room and bounce lyrics back and fourth off of each other,” Williams said. “We’re calling it Pepper 2.0.”

The four other bands that will be joining Lotus and Pepper this weekend will be bringing the rock – and lots of it.

Passafire, one of Pepper’s label-mates, will open the show on Saturday with its own version of reggae rock. Passafire will be followed by Rey Fresco, a band that features singer Roger Keiaho, bassist Shawn Ehevarria, drummer Andrew Jones (who plays a set that he built) and harpist Xocoyotzin “Xoco” Moraza.

Sunday kicks off with no-BS rockers, These United States, followed by another group of reggae-punks from Santa Cruz, Calif., The Expendables, who like to throw in the occasional ’80’s style shredding guitar solo.

Sunsation will continue April 17 and 18 with headlining performances by Steel Pulse and Los Lonely Boys. Look for more information in next week’s Scene.


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