Dopapod Brings Spring Tour to a Close with Three Nights in Cambridge

Dopapod’s spring tour came to a satiating conclusion this weekend, April 28, 29, and 30. Located at the prestigious Sinclair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the band would be returning to the venue for the first time since April 17, 18, and 19 of last year. Having a different opening act to look forward to on each night attracted familiar faces from the previous year, as well as plenty of patrons unacquainted with the headlining act.

Aqueous began the weekend at 9 o’clock sharp on Thursday the 28th. Hailing from Buffalo, New York, the band’s old school groove rock sound served as a perfect appetizer for the heavier energy of the evening. Guitarists Mike Gantzer and Dave Loss provided inspiring technical tandem guitar lines; extremely refreshing in a scene full of one-guitar bands. With pleasant vocal harmonies to match, the opening set provided foresight into the stunning musicianship that would recur throughout the weekend.

Dopapod left the starting line with their spin on the “Donkey Kong Country Theme”, which saw us into a newer composition called “Super Bowl.” Keyboardist/vocalist Eli Winderman turned up the heat as they continued with “Turnin’ Knobs,” providing the perfect counterpoint to guitarist/vocalist Rob Compa’s ice cold leads which teased us out and into the next track, “Vol. 3 #86.” Aqueous guitarists Mike and Dave then returned to the stage to join Dopapod in giving us a special treat, The Eagles‘ legendary “Hotel California.” You’d think that that would be a track best left to its originators, but this cover did more than justice. Rob’s pitch perfect vocals accompanied Aqueous’ chilling guitar harmonies perfectly in a display that would’ve impressed Joe Walsh. A brief “Bubblebrain” jam directed us to the end of the set, an even briefer return to “Turnin’ Knobs”. The second set began with a jam and a “Weird Charlie”, which met its moniker perfectly in a flurry of teases that might seem weird on paper. Rage Against the Machine‘s unmistakable “Killing in the Name” began the onslaught. The familiar power chords of Green Day‘s “Brain Stew” then progressed surprisingly well into the chorus of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” All the while teasing their own “French Bowling,” a French flag was projected with the stage lights as the boys settled on a uniquely arranged version of this masterpiece. Moving right along with “Braindead” and “Sonic”, bassist Chuck Jones and drummer Scott Zwang’s firm rhythm kept the energy in the room brimming. The band chose a couple of tracks off of their latest album ‘Never Odd or Even’ to bring the second set to an end, “Like a Ball” and fan favorite “Present Ghosts.” The second part of “Weird Charlie” fulfilled the call for encore, and left the crowd almost anxious to return to the venue for the next evening’s show.

4-28-2016
Set I: Donkey Kong Country Theme, Super Bowl, Turnin’ Knobs [1], Vol. 3 #86 [2], Hotel California [3], Bubblebrain [4], Turnin’ Knobs
Set II: Jam, Weird Charlie [5], French Bowling, Braindead, Sonic [6], Like a Ball, Present Ghosts
Encore: Weird Charlie pt. 2 [7]

[1] (Contained Vol. 3 tease)
[2] (Contained Turnin’ Knobs, Donkey Kong, Escort – Cocaine Blues teases)
[3] w/ Mike and Dave from Aqueous (Eagles cover)
[4] unfinished (Contained Turnin’ Knobs tease)
[5] included Green Day Brain Stew jam (Contained French Bowling, Killing in the Name, Jack’s Lament, While My Guitar Gently Weeps teases)
[6] contained FIGHT and FATALITY Mortal Combat samples (Contained Fly Like an Eagle tease)
[7] contained FATALITY Mortal Combat sample

Boston’s own Hayley Jane and the Primates started the night with a bang on Friday the 29th. Combining elements of American folk, early rock, and a plethora of other popular genres, they create a sound that captivates in a way that the mere sum of its parts cannot. Vocalist Hayley Jane’s stage presence is something that can be matched only by her sheer range and overall vocal prowess. Guitarist/vocalist Justin Hancock and keyboardist/vocalist Jeff King provide clean three part vocal harmonies, as well as the base of a sound which diverse doesn’t begin to describe. With dates scheduled through spring and straight into the festival season, fans in New York and all over New England should certainly keep an eye out for the strikingly gorgeous Ms. Jane and her wonderful Primates.

“Nuggy Jawson” drew the crowd’s attention like a tractor beam as soon as the lights went down. Dopapod was all smiles at the sold out friday night crowd, going into the fourth “Priorities” they’ve played this year. A menacing “Black and White” got everyone moving, with bassist Chuck Jones’ gut busting grooves truly allowing the rhythm section to cut through the mix. Next we got an insight into where exactly he might’ve honed his nearly sensual plucking skills, welcoming his former bass instructor Dan Morris to the stage. Frank Zappa’s crushing “Apostrophe” would serve as the backdrop for a dual bass solo that was emotionally fulfilling to say the least. It was moving to see a musician invite his mentor to the stage to show him the true reverence from both the crowd and the pupil. As ‘D-Mo’ waved goodbye, everyone concurred that nary a dual bass solo had been heard since Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls played one with himself back in ’88. The more relaxing “Cure” continued the set, which saw it’s live debut on the third show of the tour in Colorado. The third track of the evening off of the ‘Drawn Onward’ album, “Flipped”, brought us to intermission. After a long and arduous TSA style search upon reentry, the Sinclair was gracious enough to allow Dopapod in continuing to be the only thing tighter than their security. “Nerds” had everyone who knew them singing along to no words. A dreamy intro from lead us into “FABA”, next driving the set in a heavier direction with “Give It a Name”. “Freight Train Filled With Dynamite” was actually filled with a finger pickin’ good bluegrass jam, exemplifying Dopapod’s propensity for true cross-genre fusion. The second night concluded with “Cloud World” and “Dracula’s Monk”. Rob Compa returned to the stage for a one man encore, playing right up until curfew to the crowd’s dismay. We would all have to wait until the final evening to see a complete return.

4-29-2016
Set I: Nuggy Jawson, Priorities, Black and White, Apostrophe [1], Cure, Flipped
Set II: Nerds [2], FABA, Give It A Name [3], Freight Train Filled With Dynamite [4], Cloud World, Dracula’s Monk

[1] w/ Chucks bass teacher Danny Morris (Frank Zappa cover)
[2] (Contained Flipped tease)
[3] (Contained Kung Fu Fighting tease) (Contained FABA teases)
[4] Bluegrass

The three unique prints released each evening combined for a newfangled Boston Tea Party

Another Boston based band, Strange Machines, warmed the engine for the final drive of the weekend on Saturday the 30th. The spirit was high in another sold out crowd, as we received an early surprise when Dopapod’s Rob came out to join for the haunting “Little Monster”. Guitarist/vocalist Mike MacDonald upped the ante and busted out his falsetto for a funky cover of Escort’s “Cocaine Blues” that everyone related well with. All three opening acts of the weekend related to and prepared us for Dopapod’s sound perfectly, and that theme culminated in Strange Machines.

“Onionhead” was actually the song that introduced me to the prog rock princes who are Dopapod, so it was a perfect coincidence that they would open this Saturday night tour finisher with the track. “Off the Cuff” provided a window into the previous evening, teasing tracks “Black and White” and “Give It a Name”. Another song which they debuted in early April, “November”, transitioned in and out of the next song “Bahbi”, which turned back into “November”. “Whale (I am)” was the next selection, with the jam seeming a bit directionless as Dopapod played it live for the third time in their career. “Psycho Nature” left us with another explanation of Friday night’s set, teasing “FABA” on its way into the end of the first set, “Weedie”. Feeling in a jammier mood than usual, the boys decided to begin the end with a bouncy “Piazole”, which rang excitedly into the soon to be classic “Trapper Keeper”. The jams and transitions throughout the run and the tour in general were far and above anything that Dopapod has played live thus far, and this last three song set exemplified that fact. At the end of “Picture in Picture” Rob told us exactly who’s to blame for the spectacular spring tour finale that we had just witnessed, thanking each and every one of the road, lighting, and sound crew members by name. The encore began with yet more new songs from the repertoire, beginning with “Made A Design”, which debuted on the 6th of April. “8 Years Ended” looped briefly back into “Picture”, then ending the night, the run, and the entire tour on “Bluetooth”.

Set I: Onionhead, Off the Cuff [1], November [2], Bahbi, November, Whale (I Am), Psycho Nature [3], Weedie
Set II: Piazole, Trapper Keeper [4], Picture in Picture [5]
Encore: Made A Design, 8 Years Ended [6], Bluetooth

[1] contained Black and White jam (Contained Give It A Name tease)
[2] (Contained Bahbi tease)
[3] (Contained FABA tease)
[4] Extended Jam; Tim and Eric samples
[5] Extended Jam; crew introductions
[6] (Contained Picture in Picture tease)

It’s interesting to wonder who will be the forerunners of rock and roll when the present day torch holders are forced to make their pass. Unique song structure, improvisation, seamless transitions, and iconic stage presence are all requirements on the checklist. They are all traits that Dopapod commands like old pros as well. This three night run proved that the band is more than just another act on the bill. They compose well. They rehearse as they should. And they executed their sound with more vim and vigor than ever before this weekend in Cambridge.