It’s difficult to make a cake. If you put too much of one thing in, it can become tough and unpalatable or gooey and sickly; treat the ingredients too roughly and their potential is compromised. Some bands manage to pick the right ingredients to combine, and treat them with enough talent to produce something near-perfect, like a sonically inspired W.I. veteran. Tonight’s performance at the 100 Club was one cake you’d want to have a piece of.
The Dodos are virtuoso Meric Long on guitar and drummer Logan Kroeber, accompanied live by a percussionist who provides lilting xylophone song and crashes of cymbal and trashcan (not dustbin) – for this is Americana, contained in the Dodos bluesy riffs and alt-country twang that gently reverbs from wall to wall in the venue. As the monsoon rages outside on the streets of London, you realise this is the USA reworked – the metal-influenced drums and rowdy percussion, dizzying finger-picking, experimental shouts and constantly shifting pace precludes any semblance of boredom. Fans of the Animal Collective, Yeasayer and Grizzly Bear would approve, but the components of the music work so well as to appeal to a wide range of enthusiasts. The band mainly play from their new album Visiter, including their most radio-friendly Red and Purple and Fools, the latter of which begets a venue-wide chorus.
‘Stand up, mate!’ shouts a rowdy punter, as the Dodos begin their set. Long politely stands for a bit on his chair with his guitar, but then it's head down again, sinking into a world of quiet poetry and loud noise. At once boisterous and contained, the passion that comes across in the perfectly-aligned beats from Kroeber’s drums, the dustbin being sh*t-kicked behind him and the synchronised shouts of all three performers somehow manages to remain enclosed in a serene bubble, despite the frantic energy simmering underneath.
‘There’s no stage presence because you can’t see them sitting there,’ someone complains loudly, but this misses the nuances, and the point, of the show – the power is in Long’s downward gaze, the down-beat and the pulling-in of rhythm and lyrics, formulating a taut spring that threatens to spill over into frenzy, but never does.
A demand for an encore engenders a response in the shape of Beards from the band’s first album Beware of the Maniac, beautiful and gentle (and actually about beards) and climbing into a rapid, percussion-streaked crescendo. Music you can intellectualise and play to your mum – can this really be happening?
Image from Austin Tolin's photostream under the Creative Commons Licence.