Show Review: The Dodos with Ruby Suns at Bimbo’s 365 Club, 10/29/09

by Gordon Elgart on November 1, 2009

Meric

The Dodos are a band that seem on the cusp of something big right now. Getting Phil Ek, my favorite indie rock producer of all time, on board for their newest record is a sign of big things to come. That record, Time to Die, is heavily focused on soothing vocals melodies and crazy guitar playing from Meric Long, accompanied by strong rhythms from drummer Logan Kroeber. What could this sound like in a live setting?

If only they would use those drums more

If only they would use those drums more

Ruby Suns from New Zealand were the opener. They had one of the most bright and colorful setups I’ve seen in a long time, and I was thus expecting great things. Unfortunately, the drums surrounding their stage were hardly used, as the set focused mainly on barely audible vocal arrangements drowning in a sea of prerecorded garbledygook. You can see someone is holding a bass guitar, but the bass lines were coming mainly from these looped samples, and occasionally the bass would get plucked. It was a sad morass for the most part, although the last couple of songs were drum focused, and somewhat better. They even brought out Logan Kroeber to play with them on these tracks. Hard to fathom, though, is why they needed a drum sample on a song with three drummers on stage.

The Dodos came out on stage, and within a minute, it was obvious why everyone was there. They were there to see the drummer. He plays with a tambourine on his foot which creates a unique sound. He plays really cool stuff, and it’s impressive from the moment he begins. Keaton Synder on vibraphone both mimics and accompanies these rhtyhms as well. Meanwhile, Meric Long sings with gigantic amounts of reverb, contrasting in an interesting way with the drums. He plays seemingly random riffs with otherwordly tuning, and this all makes for a cool combination of sounds.

Probably worth the price of admission

Probably worth the price of admission

After about 20 minutes and four songs of this, something begins to become apparent. There’s not much variety here. I could see how The Dodos would be the perfect festival band. They play for a half-an-hour to an unsuspecting crowd, playing a style that’s different enough from what they’ve been hearing all day to stand out. At an hour-or-more, though, it starts to get bland and repetitive. That tambourine that sounded so cool in song one can start to become grating, and the riffs and vocals never really change styles. Tempos are similar, and it definitely starts to run out of steam.

There’s a really cool project here in The Dodos, but I think that the songs don’t stand up to the live test. On record, the songs are fleshed out, and because they’re using a great producer now, some nice variety enters into the equation. Live, they can blow you away at the beginning, but by the end, you’re forgetting what was so great about them at song one. If you’re at a festival, or you see them on a bill, check out The Dodos for a few minutes and you’ll be impressed.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna November 9, 2009 at 11:24 am

I meant to stop by and say this earlier, but – hello Gordon, it was nice to meet you at this show! I’m sure I’ll run into you and other Spinning Platters folks at future shows.

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Gordon Elgart November 11, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hi Anna! Yes, I’m sure you will. We’re everywhere, no matter the genre. 😎

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