This past Saturday, Dopapod returned from their hiatus at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. Fans flocked from all over the country for the show, which should say something about how anticipated this day has been over the last year. The weather was perfect, spirits inside the Cap were high, and fans were ready to rage. Dopapod was nearly back.
The show started just as any Dopapod show starts: lighting designer, Luke Stratton, playing mysterious-sounding keys from the front of house to set the mood. As the lights came up and the band walked out onstage, the entire crowd erupted in applause. Keyboardist, Eli Winderman, sat down and got right into it, starting into the opening riff of the quintessential “Vol 3 #86,” which had the entire crowd freaking-out from the first note. Right off the bat, the band was very visibly happy to be back onstage playing this music together and they were absolutely locked in with each other. (Stream Matt Moricle’s recording below or download here)
After playing through the main composition of “Vol. 3 #86,” Winderman took the helm with his Moog and the band was off into uncharted territory. The jam in “Vol 3” was very patient and allowed for Winderman and guitarist, Rob Compa, to explore different melodic ideas before locking in on a driving, synth groove that led the group into a mini peak, before dropping back into the “Vol 3” ending, hard. Bassist, Chuck Jones, immediately started into the heavy intro riff of “Nuggy Jawson,” an instrumental that’s very riff-centric and progressive. Following “Nuggy Jawson” came “Mucho,” the mysterious funky jam that provides an optimistic outlook on life. The crowd was getting down and singing along to every word, including the chorus, which is completely in Spanish. Winderman led the group on his Moog. The jam was fairly short and the band sang the last round of lyrics before having some fun with the clapping part, as the song ended.
Compa finally broke the silence and addressed the crowd with a “Welcome back!,” before starting the opening notes of “French Bowling,” a jazzy tune that features a lot of intense melodic lines. “Bowling” would fit perfectly in a spy movie, the vibe is almost Pink Panther-esque in the way it slinks around and leaves the listener wondering where it’s going next. At this point in the show, the entire theater was grooving and cheering at nearly every section change.
The jam in “Bowling” was dark and mystifying, led by Compa with a remarkable solo weaving through each chord change expertly. The group crushed the dubby outro of the song and used the energy to transition into the heavy rocker, “Braindead.” It didn’t feature a jam, but “Braindead” allowed room to breathe, making for an experimental, but tight version of the song. The slower “My Elephant vs. Your Elephant,” was a testament to Winderman’s ability to draw the sweetest melodies out of his synth. The composed section was tight and led the band into a groovy, bouncy jam led by Winderman on his Moog and organ. The jam never reached a peak.
To close out the set, the band dusted off fan-favorite “Trapper Keeper,” with Jones introducing the song as such. “Trapper Keeper” was one of the highlights, featuring the most exploratory jam that tapped into the use of space and ambience to create a wonderfully mystical atmosphere. Towards the end of the jam, Compa took an absolutely beautiful slide solo that seemed to be him pouring out emotions built up over the hiatus. After a powerful ending, the band left the stage and the fans were speechless. In-house set-break entertainment was provided as Stratton projected the movie Shrek the Third onto the walls of the theater.
To kick off the second set, the group broke into their recently released “Numbers Need Humans,” a funkier tune that’s never been played live before. The song translated to the live setting easily and the band was obviously enjoying it. Following “Numbers” came “FABA,” which is arguably the group’s greatest song. The crowd was ecstatic from the opening melody. “FABA” was another one of the night’s highlights; it was absolutely perfect front to back and by the looks on the members’ faces, they thought so as well. The jam explored a bit different territory, with the band locking in on a funk groove before getting into this rising, atmospheric groove that built up perfectly into the crescendo of the jam.
Winderman wasted no time post-“FABA” and started right into “Onionhead,” which was an excellent follow up to the 17 minutes of goodness that preceded it. The intro was extended and stripped down, before the band dropped heavily into the recorded intro and started into the song’s driving, bass groove. Winderman led the jam on piano, working around the grooves that Jones and Evans were laying down. Before starting the next song, Jones addressed the crowd saying: “Luke gets paid way more to light this song,” as the band broke into “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” by the Smashing Pumpkins, who Stratton has been working for during the hiatus. Apparently the group tricked him by putting a Dopapod song in this spot on the setlist, so Stratton had to light the song on the fly.
Winderman started the opening of “Superbowl,” laying down heavy synth bass notes that literally shook the venue. The jam in “Superbowl” was sweet and succinct, not going far outside the realms of the song. The upbeat “Roid Rage” came next, a fusion-esque tune that quickly got into a jam, which featured an incredibly impressive metal section before Compa took the helm and soloed masterfully through the quick changes. Up next was “Plaese Haalp,” off of the group’s 2017 release Megagem, played uptempo which gave it a funkier feel. “Haalp” didn’t feature a jam section, but featured yet another impressive guitar solo from Compa. Evans started into the groove of “Cloud World.” The song’s jazzy sound served as a nice follow up to “Haalp”’s harder rock sound. The jam section in “Cloud World” was very spacey and had elements of reggae, before the band started rising the groove back into the ending of the song.
Winderman thanked the crowd and introduced his and Compa’s parents, telling the crowd that they decided to play a song they were going to save for the VIP set: “Never Odd or Even,” the secret track off of the 2014 album of the same name. This was the live debut of the song, and it was a very emotional moment for a lot of lifelong fans. There were some heavy emotions flowing out of this performance, and it was the most beautiful part of the show. To close out the second set, the group kicked off “Bubble Brain,” another fan favorite and one of the band’s best compositions. The jam section of “Bubble Brain” carried some of the emotion from the previous song “NOOE,” as Winderman led the charge with an emotional organ solo that was a shining example of why he’s one of the best organ users on the scene right now.
The band took a very quick encore break before returning to the stage, and Jones started introducing the members of the band, asking if “you wanna hear ‘Trapper Keeper’ again? Absolutely not! Shame on you!” Winderman opened with the synth notes of “Freight Train Filled With Dynamite,” a powerhouse of a song that sounds like a freight train barreling down the tracks. Freight Train’s jam section had an overall jamtronica sound, with collaborative electronic grooves. The band masterfully transitioned back into the head of the tune.
This show was incredible. Dopapod was locked in with one another, the jams were fresh and explored really interesting territory and the setlist was phenomenal front to back. Luke Stratton also put on one of the most astounding light shows the crowd had ever seen, seemingly never repeating a single move. It’s hard to put into words the emotions the band conveyed musically, but one thing is very clear: all four of them really enjoyed performing that show and are happy to be back.
Dopapod, April 27, 2019 – The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY
Set 1: Vol. 3 #86 > Nuggy Jawson, Mucho, French Bowling (1) > Braindead, My Elephant vs. Your Elephant, Trapper Keeper
Set 2: Numbers Need Humans, FABA, Onionhead, Bullet With Butterfly Wings (2,3), Super Bowl, Roid Rage, Plaese Haalp, Cloud World, Never Odd Or Even (2) > Bubble Brain
Encore: Freight Train Filled With Dynamite
1: Nana nana boo-boo teases
3: Smashing Pumpkins cover
Check out the photo gallery below and check back with NYS Music for coverage of the special VIP Storyteller set at Garcia’s.
Photos by Amanda Siedner