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What You Missed: The Dodos

24 Mar

Now that we’ve been able to take a shower and sleep for more than four hours in a row, the prospect of seeing live music has regained some of it’s appeal, especially when it’s a band we’ve been partial to for quite a while, who have a new record out and who we missed down in Austin. We refer, of course, to The Dodos, the San Francisco duo (who always manage to be a trio with a different third man every time we catch them) who are very much alive and kicking, as they showed last night at the Cedar Cultural Center. Opening up for The Dodos were Philadelphia’s Reading Rainbow, on their third night of the tour and very excited to be on the road. They kept the young crowd happy with their ramshackle pop-punk two-piece (one guitar, a standing tom, snare and cymbal), off-kilter harmonies and general affability that spoke to both experience (they have several EPs and two LPs out) as well as enthusiasm. They were also quick to point out the uniqueness of the Cedar as a venue, noting that they had never played a place like that, with volunteers, according to Sarah on the drums.

As for The Dodos, their new disc, No Color, is generally being hailed as a return-to-form after 2009’s Time To Die came off as over polished and produced. No Color gets back to what made 2008’s Visiter so thrilling; scattering drumlines, percussive guitars and a fluid sense of time signature and rhythm. Just as he had in previous shows, percussionist Logan Kroeber had tambourines taped to his feet instead of kicking a hi-hat, but Meric Long on the guitars stood throughout and got some good motion going. He only used two Fenders for the show, without pulling out an acoustic at all during the main set (although he may have for the encore, we were obliged to leave and missed them playing one of their radio singles from Visiter, “Fools”.)

When I spoke with Long back when Time To Die dropped, he had talked about how he was disappointed in his own singing, that it was too simplistic over to open chord, modal structure of so many Dodos tunes. On the new record, Neko Case sings on many of the songs to buoy that insecurity, live, their new third man, a guitar player identified only as Chris helped that along by playing high, melodic lines to give an extra punch of musicality. But it was the essential and elemental rhythms, the pulsing play between Long and Kroeber that make The Dodos such a joy to watch. The closest local analogy would be the exchange between Peter Pisano and Brian Moen of Peter Wolf Crier, a comparison that felt apt on the Cedar’s comfortable stage. Here’s to that kind of musical friendship and trust, long may it keep us engaged and enthralled.

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