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Monday, 4 November 2013

the dodos pop 2013

The Dodos  |  POP MTL

COSMIC COLLISIONS  |  NATHAN NAVIDZADEH
          PHOTOS  |  VIVEN GAUMAND

I stood, restlessly, at the bottom of the stairs looking up at the entrance to La Sala Rossa. My body was on overdrive. Starting early in the A.M., my axons had been firing on blast all day. Running experiments in the morning, optimizing protocols in the afternoon and analyzing data in the evening. My life as a scientist had my hands full and my thoughts occupied. The black in the sky had set in for many hours before I had left the lab. I squeezed in the time to chuck an energy drink down my gullet as I stood before the venue thinking “The Dodos are playing tonight”. I took a moment, breathed in the night air (which was sweetened by the remaining guarana fragrances) and grinned to myself as I realized: “this is awesome!”

As I stepped into the concert hall, I literally bumped into my long-term ex-girlfriend for the first time with her boyfriend. Pseudo-friendly chit chat and introductions were exchanged and, admittedly, after seeing them together, I felt awkward about going back to enjoying the concert on my own.  This led me to explain to them why I was there. “Oh I’m covering this show for Hot Soupe where I’m going to write a review”. Besides feeling uncomfortable about, what felt like, boasting and talking myself up to my ex-girlfriend, the ensuing performances easily managed to liberate my thoughts away from the ex-relationship funk. 

The Dodos took the stage and frontman Meric Long looked at the audience in silence and said “Nous sommes… lay Doh Doh”. I burst into laughter as his intentionally humorous yet sincere tone stroked my funny bone just right. They jumped right into their newest single “Confidence” and Meric’s concisely picked and clean semi-acoustic guitar notes along with the clarity in his voice further lifted my spirits. Drummer Logan Kroeber completed the duo as he came in just at the right cue to elicit movement. The crowd was now lively and engaged. A few more verses into the song, they entered a rhythmically intricate-fast paced tempo, of which The Dodos are known for. That allowed for Long’s high-spirited guitar melodies to be accented atop Joe Haege’s accompanying guitar progressions. It was that easy. I was immersed.

The Dodos consist of Meric & Logan from San Francisco with a varying tour member to add to the energy when on the road. Christopher Reimer, late guitarist for the band “Women” strongly influenced Meric’s musical discovery as a guitarist and toured with The Dodos in the summer and fall of 2011. He passed away in his sleep, possibly due to heart conditions, in 2012 at the age of 26. No one saw it coming. The Dodo’s latest album “Carrier” contains many references to and reflects the solemn essence of their beloved friend Chris. As I was discovering the history between these artists, I hit pause on the current track that I was listening to and checked out Chris’ release of his unfinished solo project which his closest friends put together and titled “The Chad Tape”. I listened to the ambient song “First Cut/TV Water” and then accidentaly pressed play on what I was listening to beforehand, which happened to be “Confidence”. It worked. Call me histrionic, but I felt a cosmic overlap where time had no place and the music shared between these friends could harmonize once more. His presence within The Dodos will forever be entwined.  

The concert at La Sala Rossa carried on.

Long’s use of pedals and loopers created layers of melodic foundations that both introduced and held the energy of the songs where Kroeber’s time keeping acted as the heartbeat through his crescendo from calm and steady to complex and passionate. The duo is known for their unconventional use of their instruments. Replacing a kick for a tambourine attached to his foot, Kroeber made elaborate use of the rims of his drums and decorative use of his toms. Long often preferred finger-picking his acoustic or semi-distorted setup and mixed & mashed the time signatures between each vocal and instrumental layer with ease.  The audience and I cheered in excitement when we heard the hard hitting drums commence “Black Night”. We continued in our excitement and sang along to classics like “Walking” which led into “Red and Purple” where we, once again, lost it. Their setlist consisted of an even mix between old and new songs. 

They came back for their encore performance with “Transformer”, the opening track on their new album. It began with clean electric guitar harmony loops and lead us back into the experience. At this point the energy between the band and the crowd was almost palpable. Logan began hitting the drums again and Meric came in strumming his acoustic up and down. Our hearts were beating fast as they began to play another favourite: “Fools”. If you knew how the song went, I would tell you that we laughed and chanted along in cue as we danced with our hands in the air. The song came to an end. They thanked us for the great night and left the stage.  The lights turned on and the Pop Montreal organizers announced the after parties that were happening on that particular night. 

The crowd wouldn’t have it. We started saying it all together “the season, the Season, The Season!!” For me, this was the first song I heard by The Dodos nearly a decade ago and remains to be one of my favourite songs with unsaturated revisiting. The duo came back on stage without their on-tour counterpart. They looked at us, looked at each other, Logan took a deep breath and raised his sticks. I smiled as the lights dimmed and he began the very distinct and rhythmically rich drum pattern that we all longed to hear. Meric came in with finger picking acoustic melodies that hit all the right notes of nostalgia down our spines. We sang every word. At some point in the song there was a shift. It broke down, the drumming stopped and they began erratic vocal looping.  A back and forth between the bass drum and a muted open snare came in. The rhythm changed and the acoustic progression gained a darkened gypsy-esque quality. The crowd began looking at one another and in the middle of it all, as Meric let out his iconic reverb-heavy “yelp”, a moshpit broke out. The energy between everyone finally became tangible as it was released in the pit. The band’s response via twitter was “Holy crap Montreal! First time I've ever seen a moshpit happen when the acoustic guitar comes out. #whateverworks”. 

It was incredible. It was one of the most memorable concerts I had been a part of in years. I won’t deny that the association between my youth, my first years of undergrad and the music don’t bias my feelings towards the band, but I’m just saying, their a near-extinct breed (harhar).

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