On Sunday December 30, 2012, The Trocadero hosted the fourth night of the Deathwaltz Media Group’s New Years Eve run, “When the Music’s Over”. This night, featuring two of the most influential modern, live electronica bands, Papadosio and Dopapod, was the opening night of what Philadelphia might consider its musical New Years Party. The following night at the Trocadero included performances by Brothers Past and The Heavy Pets. The crowd was loving, and full of artists and energy; waves of dancing sifted through the audience as painters translated the live music onto their canvasses. Papadosio and Dopapod’s musical sets were separated by performances from artist Futexture and DJ and drummer duo, Horizon Wireless.
The Trocadero was the perfect venue to host this momentous event, with its exceptional acoustics and historical character.
Since it’s opening in 1870 as the Arch Street Opera house, the Trocadero has progressed though Philadelphian history first as a burlesque hall in the1950s, then an art house cinema and fine arts theatre in the late 1970s, then a dance club in the 1980s and finally into the notorious concert hall and live music venue it is today. The Trocadero is listed on the U.S. Register of Historical Places and due to its immaculate upkeep has become the only 19th century Victorian theater still operating in the United States.
Dopapod is an experimental synthesizer based live electronic band that came onto the scene in 2009 with their first album, Radar. The band consists of Eli Winderman on the keyboards, Neal “Fro” Evans on the drums, Rob Campa on the guitar, and Chuck Jones on the bass. The quartet has been quite busy over the past three years touring nationally and averaging over 150 concerts per year. This nascent group frequently performs at festivals, including Rootwire, Gathering of the Vibes, Bonaroo, Mountain Jam, Burning Man, Bear Creek, The Big Up, Camp Bisco, Catskill Chill, and many more. The fans of Dopapod are loyal to say the least, often following the band from state to state to partake in their live eclectic music improvisational dance parties.
The band recently came out with their newest album, Redivider (released on December 21, 2012), which they recorded in Pomfret, Connecticut on a solar powered farm. The unique sound on this album can be attributed to their method of recording, which was done by bringing their own equipment into the barn, rather than recording in the typical studio. This album is also unlike their previous releases of Radar in August 2009, I Saw Live Dopapod Evil was I in August 2011, and Drawn Onward in December 2011, due to the added layer of vocals. The vocals on Redivider were laid in an intricate and cohesive manner, which helped to further texture this band’s already multidimensional sound.
On this epic chilly night in December, Dopapod took the stage by storm and enthused the audience for about an hour and a half with its flowing instrumentals and funky, energetic breakdowns. They started off with their set intro – a very mellow instrumental – and then maintained the same ambience as they flowed into their first song “Nuggy Jawson” from their album Drawn Onward where the tempo grew into a more upbeat groove. Next, they played “Trapper Keeper”, which they announced was from their new album, Redivider, which is now available for download on their website www.dopapod.com. This song is one of my personal favorites, as it exemplifies Dopapod’s ability to successfully infuse vocals into their unique style of sound. The audience sang along and broke out into a full-fledged dance party that continued for the next fourteen minutes. The band followed up with” STADA” another song off of their new album. The use of the organ and synthesizer gives this instrumental a cosmic feel. Then came another instrumental from their album Drawn Onward. Dopapod picked up the pace with one of their harder rock jams that included vocals that were written on the road during their recent fall tour, “Psycho Nature”. This was pursued by the groovy instrumental “Bubblebrain” from Redivider, along with another harder song that incorporated vocals from the same album named “Braindead”. They concluded their live set (which is available online) with “FABA”, a syncopated groove that the whole crowd could boogie to, but only after thanking Philadelphia and inviting everyone to their next performance in the this fine city, at the Blockley. Luke Stratton did a phenomenal job with the band’s sound and lighting. Dopapod is definitely making its way into the live electronic frontier with a fearlessly unique sound.
Although Papadosio was the last band to take the stage, they were nevertheless able to impart their mini universe upon the crowd before leaving. One could not even describe their set as simply a musical concert, as the addition of their graphic art and light show made it a multifaceted sensual experience. On this tour, Papadosio is promoting their newest album called T.E.T.I.O.S. or “To End the Illusion of Separation”, which was released on October 16, 2012 by Rootwire Records. Papadosio’s sound is one of a kind, incorporating progressive rock, folk, groove, with large periods of harmonic improvisation and an electronic undertone. This is a perfect melody providing a message for the modern, live electronic dance era.
Papadosio originated in the creative city of Athens, Ohio and has currently moved their hometown to the artistically inspirational city of Ashville, North Carolina. This brilliant collaboration of musicians consists of Tony Thogmartin on the guitar, samples, synthesizer and vocals, Billy Brouse on the keyboard, synthesizer and vocals, Sam Brouse on the keyboard, Michael Healy on the acoustic/electronic drums, and Rob McConnell on the bass guitar and vocals. Papadosio’s music challenges the pre-established notions of specific music genres while creating a conscious and mind opening composition that inspires audiences everywhere to get on their feet and groove.
The band’s music encourages fans to stir the world, fuel the heart and feed the mind. They achieve this through their extraordinary improvisation and their incomparable harmony. T.E.T.I.O.S. is their fourth album and is unique in that each song has a representational piece of artwork attached to it in order to help spread the musicians underlying message. Papadosio has grown as a band of musicians and philosophers since their appearance at City Bisco in Philadelphia on October 6, 2012.
The air was full of anticipation as the crowd waited for Papadosio to take the stage. You could tell how much the band enjoyed playing for their fans as they sauntered on stage with big grins spreading across their faces in reaction to the enthusiastic crowd. They opened up their set with “Cue”, from their new album T.E.T.I.O.S., that has a very natural and uplifting sound; infusing vocals while showcasing the organ. As do most songs on T.E.T.I.O.S., this song sends a message, explaining how we as humans need to take responsibility for the effects our existence has on nature and how we must take it in our own hands to do something to help heal the world. The next song they played, “Right Now”, also stems from their newest album T.E.T.I.O.S., has a faster pace than the first, and utilizes more synthesizer. Papadosio sings, telling the audience that “right now, so far, it’s written in the stars for you.” This was followed up with a third song from T.E.T.I.O.S. which was a perfect starting line-up for their T.E.T.I.O.S. tour; clearly showcasing their phenomenal album. “The Bionic Man Meets his Past” is an instrumental that emphasizes Michael Healy’s talent as a drummer. “Cloud found”, another song with vocals played, preceded by a Radiohead cover of “Subterranean Homesick Alien” a beautiful song with their own spin to it. Another intricately synthesized song with striking vocals was play from T.E.T.I.O.S. titled “The Oracle Theme”. Tony Thogmartin then takes the vocal lead in “The Sum” a very groovy song from their T.E.T.I.O.S. album that asks the listener, “Why are you where you are? Who put you there? Have you ever wondered why? Have you tried to care?” In essence, this song is asking us how we feel about ourselves, we are “her best idea, “the dream of the earth,” so what do we believe is the sum of our own worth?
Papadosio then took us back to a song from their album Magreenery, “Utopiate” which has a funky syncopated beat incorporated in its distinctive instrumental. The next song they played is from their album Observations, and is one of my personal favorites, “How Not to Float”. This song incorporates such harmony that is exemplified by all the band members, declaring, “You’ve got the answer to how to float.” They followed with “Magreenery” from their Magreenery album, which is another synthesizer based song that initially makes the crowd want to wiggle, but then changes to a more rapid pace about two thirds of the way through and moves to a more cosmic feel. Papadosio played “Snorkle” from the album Observations as their final song. A crowd dancing favorite, the waves of sound echoing throughout the venue and surging through the crowd in an epic groove. Members of the audience stared at the musicians in awe as the essence of their musical talent oozed through the airwaves. “Snorkle” was the perfect instrumental song to close out this impressive musical run from two ambitious and endowed bands. Upon completing their final song, each band member threw their copy of the set-list into the audience and I was lucky enough to catch the bassist’s copy.
What an enchanting and magical night of music! As a whole, the audience was full of amazing vibes and open minds. There are several painters that have been following both Papadosio and Dopapod on tour, deriving inspiration from the musical genius set before them. This gathering of progressive beings displayed their understanding of the message that underlies the music throughout their interactions with the staff and others in the crowd. The music of Dopapod and Papadosio has evidently made quite an impression upon their aficionados. Dopapod is currently embarking on its’ Winter Tour and the next time they will be performing in Philadelphia is on February 23, 2013 at the Blockley. They will also be making an appearance at the Highline Ballroom with Kung Fu on February 21, 2013 in New York City. You can also check out Papadosio’s Future Forest Tour, as they will be playing at the Blockley in Philadelphia on April 20, 2013.
Review by Rebecca Wolfe
Photography by Rebecca Wolfe