The Dodos go through the motions at Middle East show

A review of The Dodos at the Middle East Downstairs on October 15, 2009

, Staff

Releasing three albums since their start in 2006, the Dodos have received moderate critical acclaim and relative success in the past couple of years. Backing Time to Die, which was just released in September, the San Francisco indie rockers looked to ride this wave of buzz into their Thursday night performance at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. Unfortunately, the band’s lack of interest brought down what had potential to be a great show.

Incorporating songs off of their most recent two albums, the group opened introduction-less with “Paint the Rust” off of their “Visitors” album, to the sounds of enthusiastic crowd applause. In the small basement confines of the Middle East, the unique and powerful percussion talents of both drummer Logan Kroeber and newest member vibratone player Keaton Snyder were immediately obvious with canon-like beats, droning melodies and crackling snare. The voice of lead singer Meric Long, however, sounded both muffled, often off key, and noticeably higher than his well-produced album counterpart.

Though primarily performing new songs including “Two Medicines” and “Fables,” the group incorporated many of the tracks off of 2008’s Visiter, including the finger-picking and percussion heavy “Jodi.” The most notable of the tracks performed, however, was the quick paced and up-tempo “Fools” (featured recently in a Budweiser commercial) also off of Visiter.

Melting fairly seamlessly between each song, the group kept crowd interaction at a minimum, choosing not to even speak to the crowd until around the sixth song played. Though they did briefly play in the dark with glow-stick drumstick and pick effects towards the middle of the set, this general lack of interest led to a lack of energy among the crowd who remained mostly quiet and motionless until the end of the set.

Despite this, the group did impress with obvious musical talent and eccentricity as Long used drumsticks to play his guitar and used bows on the large vibraphone to create the long droning sounds of “Time to Die.”

Leaving the stage without saying anything more than a quick “thank you guys,” the band feigned a quick exit, returning immediately to play crowd favorites “Walking” and “Red and Purple,” bridged by a brief impromptu jam session. The lack of showmanship again became an issue as Snyder decided to lie on the ground during this final set, rather than join the performance.

The two-song encored ended the 75-minute show, which was too short for many fans while others were excited to find Long and Kroeber hanging around the stage after their set to speak with fans.

Openers the Ruby Suns, an electro indie-pop trio from New Zealand, drew a crowd of their own with the harmonic voice of singer Aimee Robinson and band mates Ryan McPhun and Bevan Smith. The group stayed to watch the entire Dodos set, and teasingly dumped water down the back of Long during the encore.

 

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