The Dodos Chicago Show Review

It’s awesome to see what two guys can do with a guitar and a drum set. They can make blues rock, or noise rock, or, like Meric Long and Logan Kroeber of The Dodos, polyrythmic folk rock with catchy choruses, sing-along shout-outs, and thoughtful lyrics.

Unlike their namesake, The Dodos’ are exciting and full of life (bad jokes!) They’re newest release, No Color, is one of this year’s catchiest albums; it’s a distillation of the pounding, pulsing folk jams found on 2008′s Visitor and 2009′s Time To Die. I got into The Dodos pretty late and last night was the first time I’ve seen the band. My immediate reaction: “I’m glad I already have tickets to see those guys again in September!”

Long and Kroeber are fantastic performers. Long can play complicated guitar parts and still hitting every note of each song’s vocal melody. Kroeber is eerily metronome-esque in every song. Even though the band has some really tricky rhythms, he never lost beat. These guys have mastered music’s fundamentals: watching Long gently pluck his guitar softly, then crescendo into a full on slam-attack against the strings is a real treat–but dynamics also make the song’s climaxes sound especially hard hitting. Both Long and Kroeber looked immersed in concentration—Kroeber leering at his toms keeping a steady syncopated beat, and Long’s neck veins bulging during the song’s screams. These guys really know how to make music sound emotive both live and in the studio.

I can’t say everything was good, however. The touring-only-member, Chris (can’t find his last name) screwed up pretty much everything he had to play. Whether missing his mark on almost every song, playing a much easier, dumbed-down solos, or just carrying himself with a general “I’m really bored” stage demeanor, Chris didn’t look like he should have been on stage last night. Thankfully, he played quietly, so it was easy to ignore him. Granted, the parts he had to play are challenging; maybe he’s new or just had a bad night–don’t want to sound too harsh. Another small complaint: the crowd was populated by statutes! The show was at the Metro (a venue that always makes me question my trendy-cred), and all the hip metropolitans seemed too cool to dance. Thankfully, my awkward flailing and convulsions (pseudo-dancing) didn’t seem to bother anyone. So, let’s end on a positive note!

As the band left before their encore, the crowd was shouting out a sundry of requests (I wanted “God?”; the guy next to me wanted “Chickens” off of the band’s first record) Eventually, the chanting just became “Play them all! Play all your songs!” The guys played two more and left looking pretty exhausted. Job well done, fellas! Can’t wait to see you again at Pygmalion!

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