It was unexpected turnout on Sunday, April 9, with a sea of die-hard fanatics coating the lower level of The Warehouse – so much so that even front man Rob Compa was surprised by their numbers. Fairfield isn’t necessarily the hub of all things jam band related, so it was fantastic to see the fairly seasoned venue collectively pull in a wide variety of artists and crowds. Aqueous warmed up the stage prior to Dopapod’s performance which consisted of two full sets and and encore. Everyone was thrilled, engaged and once again, due to the location, the venue pulled in a vast age demographic. The more mature and less familiar audience was perched around the ledge of the top floor, thoroughly enjoying the performance. Both groups were tight, virtually flawless and a perfect fit for a laid-back Sunday night party.
Several months ago, Aqueous underwent a key member change with drummer Rob Houk filling the seat and making himself very comfortable. He was admitted in early June of 2016 and seamlessly fits the groups numerous style variations. He delivered a smooth performance all the way through, working through the inevitable drop of a stick a during a tastefully flamboyant drum fill and quickly grabbing another one from his bag without hesitation. All other members worked the stage well, but unfortunately came off a bit lifeless aside from the enormous voices coming from the instruments. Although they were limited to a small space due to being surrounded by Dopapod’s equipment, it would have been more visually engaging to see some enthusiasm from McPhaden and Loss. It may not have been the time nor the place considering the venue type and turn out, but it’s a new area that draws a different crowd and being as engaging as possible would have helped gain more respect and attention from those not used to seeing this type of performance.
Aside from some of their lackluster body language, Aqueous walked out with one hell of an entrance as the Chariots of Fire theme song played over the PA system. They lead a powerful performance which was unfortunately only appreciated by the 30-40 people that arrived before Dopapod’s time on stage. It started with a funky favorite, “Second Sights,” which literally turned some heads. The early birds had their noses in their drinks, backs to the stage and were deep in conversation until the first first hit of that iconic “Shaft”-like funk theme song filled the room. They then flaunted their wide range of styles and tones and broke out into “Strange Times,” a classic rock sound which blended into a genre classic, “Peg” by Steely Dan. They dove into a classic Aqueous sound with “Staring Into the Sun” and, again, most of the limelight was drawn to a very animated Gantzer who was bobbing and weaving like a boxer around his small section of stage. They capped off the set with the heavy and funky track “Numbers and Facts” and left on a very positive note.
Setlist: Second Sight > Strange Times, Peg > Staring Into the Sun > Numbers and Facts
Aqueous left over a large round of applause for the valiant effort and immaculate performance while fans were still rolling in. Dopapod set up in a semi circle, making this an even more intimate experience aside from the time of the week and the amount of attendees. Although this was not a night that would be defined as the most memorable yet, it did not stop them from giving it their all.
Aqueous wasn’t the only group that underwent a percussive change – original Dopapod drummer Neal “Fro” Evan is back on the throne, placed stage left. Although this is old news to fanatics, a naive eye would not have known he took a hiatus. Speaking of percussion, a special guest sat in on accessory drums, Adrian Tramontano of Kung Fu. Although he laid low behind “Fro”, his stylings and flavors came through subtly and tastefully under a very energetic Dopapod. It is unknown whether he will follow Dopapod all the way to Disc Jam.
About 15 minutes of chatter and socializing went by until Dopapod opened up with “Give It a Name.” It’s a hard hitting track perfect for establishing their dominance in an venue that may not be so familiar with their style. Fans were excited, but were undoubtedly less enthusiastic compared to prior performances. Everyone could be heard chatting away during the breaks in their tracks and were even caught spacing out at times, but the presence of the group brought together new and old fans which made this performance nothing short of a good time. They moved on to “Super Bowl” and over to “Brain Dead,” both of which were obvious fan favorites.
They moved forward with their fairly sarcastic song “Nerds” and threw a reggae twist on it prior to performing a well orchestrated mash-up of The Donkey Kong Country theme, a new song “Trickery” from their latest album and “Dracula’s Munk,” all of which are incredible funky and very well blended together. Before the end of the first set, sentimentality kicked in when a comedic birthday song and cake was given to Jake Berkowitz.
Set two was a little short lived and contained “Picture in Picture” with teases of Snarky Puppy followed by “PLSS,” “Bahbi,” “I Am” and “Cure.” Knowing it would be an early night for most, they kept the encore tight but interesting by playing “We’re Not Alone” and “Freight Train Filled with Dynamite,” during which, members switched instruments and had Gantzer join in for some solo time.
Everyone was content by the end of the night, even though it wasn’t the most incredible and mind-blowing performance the two groups have put together. But one would hope that this isn’t the last time Dopapod or Aqeuous are invited back to The Fairfield Company.
Setlist: Set 1 – Give it a Name, Braindead Pt. 2, Nerds, Donkey Kong Theme > Trickery > Dracula’s Monk > Trickery > Donkey Kong Theme > Trickery
Set 2 – Picture in Picture, PLSS, Bahbi, I Am (Whale Song), Cure
Encore – We Are Not Alone, Freight Train Filled With Dynamite