TND and Dopapod: (The Jam Battle Continues...)
As I drove down to The National in Richmond, I contemplated the many years where I truly enjoyed electronic music. I had always enjoyed house and trance music. I had been to a few raves and DJs in my time, when I was younger. It was a lot of fun at the time and so were Jam-tronica bands, but somewhere along my 10 year experience with live music, my tastes changed and diverged into the Jam Purist I am today. I am not sure at what point it happened but it could've been the onslaught of dub-step and the horrible pop-trance culture that I decided real instruments that played rock 'n' roll music sounded much more aesthetically pleasing to me.
I won some free tickets to the show and the only real reason I was going was to see Dopapod. I had seen TND before, at All Good music festival and had actually enjoyed it at the time, besides the lack of lyrics, which always adds another dimension for me. Dopapod had caught my attention a few years ago but I had yet to catch them live. I have been making it a point to see all the new up-and-coming jam bands out there and Dopapod was surely on that list.
Outside of The National, I was accosted by a homeless gentleman who proceeded to tell me about his experience outside of a Grateful Dead concert in the 90s, in where someone had given him LSD and he found himself laid out getting a blowjob from someone. He wasn't sure if it was a man or woman. He carried the latest Game of Thrones novel and shouted many things like "No Westerners here" and "King Richard." I'm highly positive those aren't even characters from any of the books.
I went into the venue at the proper showtime which was billed as 7:30. There were possibly 20 people at the venue so... the excruciating pop trance House music played for over an hour while I waited for the band to come on. They seemed to be holding out for more people to show up before they came out to play. Finally, after an hour of pacing around due to no seating, Dopapod came out onstage and more people seemed to arrive at the show. Dopapod didn't waste any time with a hard transitioning jam that turned into an even harder one, as they moved on, very quickly. I noticed that they had a new drummer, who seemed to be like Animal from The Muppets, beating the almighty out of those drums. The band slowed down for a crazy organ solo but then quickly picked up and took off at high speeds, never seeming to slow down all night. The keyboardist is the heart of this band and most of the solo work is done by him. The solos and transitions were very reminiscent of YES or even, Emerson Lake and Palmer. The sound in The National was very muffled and I couldn't hear the guitarist as much as I would have liked. As a guitarist, I much prefer music that is more guitar-centric but I can appreciate keyboard-centric music as well. Dopapod blended all essential musical genres successfully but they did it with a very raw and choppy intensity that I haven't seen from any band other than Umphreys Mcgee, and thats not always a good thing for me. The band never seemed to stay on one groove long enough to get a complete feel for it but on the other end they never stayed long enough to get bored with it either. I would have liked to had more time to get into a specific moment of their music but they moved on so quickly, back and forth from hard to even harder. The band was a lot less electronic than I had expected and they actually sang words. The song "NERDS" was actually the song that got me into Dopapod in the first place and it accentuates everything that I need in music. It has a great rhythm and jam section but also has simple use of lyrics "No, Words," which adds a another layer to the song completely, as the listener wonders exactly what they mean.
All in all, Dopapod was surprisingly great. They completely understand the build up and breakdown of jams extremely well. I can definitely see why there is a buzz about them and I plan to see them every chance I get in the future to decide more. The still seem to need some band cohesion and I can't say they are my favorite band out there but they have my attention. I cannot wait to compare them with some of the other new bands. I can see a relation to The Big Something and even Tauk but in my opinion, they are better than either one. Keep on playing and getting better and for jams sake, STAY IN THE POCKET LONGER........
As for TND, they didn't even come on until 11:30. So, I only caught the first few songs which in the end reminded me of why I didn't like jam-tronica in the first place. It doesn't seem to go anywhere and just stays very level and very even keel, very unlike Dopapod, which transcended musical genres and jam space itself at times. I'm pretty sure @bobbymaxwell2 The New Deal should've opened up for Dopapod but seniority and all that.
Jam Band Purist- "Please don't dominant the rap Jack, if you got nothing new to say."
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.