Written by Michael Tucker
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Papadosio (and LITZ for that matter)— non-list keeping, live in the moment guy that I am—but let’s just say, it is a pretty big number. My friends, family and co-workers are often puzzled by how often I see a Papadosio. “Don’t you get bored seeing the same band play the same songs over and over again?” they ask. “Sounds awfully repetitive,” they muse. I usually just answer with a silent smile and think to myself they probably haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a group of musicians who experiment so much on stage. After seven years of attending shows and festivals, there is “no end” in sight for how much love and respect I have for this amazing band. The sold-out show I attended at the historic and intimate Rex Theater was no exception to the continual excellence that Papadosio’s live performances offer. . .
…and Wowza! what a way to spend Thanksgiving weekend it was. I am so grateful that I got to spend a balmy Saturday in November experiencing some of the sights and enjoying some super-delicious food in friendly Pittsburgh with the two great loves of my life, my partner Tara and daughter Emily, along with Stevie Nutter, one of the coolest, kindest people I have met in recent memory—all before getting to see two of my favorite bands in the universe at a great venue! Looking back as I write this with a slight case of the winter-time blues, it’s a nice reminder of how grateful I am for family, friends and music in my life.
First things first, I have to offer some acclaim to my home-state heroes LITZ for playing an incredible opening set that had a nice-sized early crowd dancing like crazy. I had a blast getting down and getting funky with Tara and Stevie as the funky four-piece from Maryland rawked the house with a blistering set which included a cool Jethro Tull cover with front man Austin Litz mimicking Ian Anderson’s vocal and flute-stylings in a jaw-droppingly good way. LITZ also played one of my favorite original songs, the slow-burner “No Sleep,” which had the three of us rocking out, nodding and grooving to the intoxicating throb of Logan Litz’s bass and Nick Thrasher’s beats. Pat Shine was as fun to watch as he was to listen to with his shreddy, face-melting guitar lines as Austin confirmed my belief in the communal power of the live-music experience with his trademark funky, smooth growl (not to mention his sax playing): “With all of us here together/ We can rise up and take flight/ There’s no stopping here, baby/ No end to this night.” Yes, indeed! It felt just like that. The real highlight (and surprise!) of their outstanding opening set came with another cover, worlds apart from Jethro Tull: the boys whipped out an electro-funky cover of Chromeo’s “Night by Night” which featured Nick on vocals along with Austin. It was a next-level dance party kind of moment, and I learned that Nick could have a second career as a blue-eyed soul singer if he so desires. I’m so grateful I got to see one of my favorite local bands keep climbing the ladder of success through hard work and dedication. Finally, it has been particularly meaningful to see fellow Papadosio fanatic Nick Thrasher get to open for them few dates on this tour.
Before getting into the splendor of Dosio’s set, here’s some gratitude for the people in the live music community who help make it so special. I could not have asked for two better people to enjoy the show with than Tara and Stevie. We were blessed to get to enjoy conversation and drinks with merps Bryan, Trenton, and Mary Grace before the show. I enjoyed hearing about the previous night’s show in Columbus and have to admit I was a little jealous that they got to hear “Skipswitch” and especially jealous of the previous night’s encore wherein the boys played “Curve” with Sam on guitar! I can’t wait until that show comes out on Bandcamp. I’m also grateful I got to enjoy most of Dosio’s set with Advocates of Change founder Kevin O’Neill and his roommate Michael. I had a lot of fun with Kevin guessing which songs would develop from the opening notes. It was also fun meeting a guy named Ed who kept telling me that I look like Michael Travis of String Cheese Incident and EOTO. I’m grateful I got to see Sleepy Creek family members Morgann Moser and Tyler Ridgeway at this show along with the 9:30 Club show. I love it when my music worlds collide! I was also happy to see Brendan Skryznecki ,whom I met at this past Resonance, again. As always, I enjoyed many hugs and lots of good conversation from a crowd of nice human beings. Thank you Papadosio and LITZ families for having the absolutely best and kindest fans in the music scene.
Gosh! There are so many good things to say about the Content Coma shows I’ve seen (four nights at Resonance, the 9:30 Club in DC, and of course, the Rex Theater in Pittsburgh): It’s been a blast watching the guys have so much fun on stage — most particularly Anthony as the amount of fun he’s been having playing lately is written all over his face, smiling and beaming expressively from the stage. I’m not one of those fans who gripe about Dosio not jamming like they did back in the day. I really enjoy how much they have developed as a tighter, edgier progressive rock band while at the same time allowing room for experimentation and allowing for space in the songs. I love how the sounds can turn from darkness to light on dime. It’s been so freakin’ cool to hear these superb musicians play around and experiment with the structure sections of the songs, making them as interesting to listen to as the jam sections. It has been a pleasure to experience the sounds these guys make evolve and continually blossom into a completely layered magnificence with overt sonic influences from non-jam bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead right out front.
From beginning to end, my favorite quintet in rock played a wide sonic spectrum that ran the gamut from edgy synth dance-grooves to mellow melodic bliss, and from spaced out bass-heavy jams to sweeping, epic melodic swells to just about every shade in between—all delivered with that Dosio touch of wizardry. “Distress Signal” made for a great opener with its relentless groove which had me dancing out my existential angst. Anthony obviously was having a blast on the verse vocals and edgy guitar, and there was a cool, spacey dance-party in the song’s middle section. “No End,” a slower-paced song, which is also from Dosio’s latest album, built to a lush swell that was breathtaking in its beauty. “Vactrolio” built into its blissful synth and guitar peak that never fails to bowl me over after its bass punctuated build. It’s impossible for me not to raise my hands in the air at the song’s melt-worthy climax. Every. Single. Time. Next came the piano heavy classic from T.E.T. I O. S. “The Bionic Man Meets His Past” with its epic climax that never lets up (“Oh, yeah!) and which never fails to open my heart chakra bigger than I thought possible. I was surprised by how much I loved “Ear to Ear 2.0” live. It was the first time I experienced it live and, honestly, I did not dig the recorded versions I had heard on Bandcamp. Wow! It was fun live: Rob’s bass really stood out here, and I think Anthony’s vocoder vocals made sense in the context of “Write Sing Play Mix.” My favorite moment of the show came next during “Fanfare for the Rain People,” a song which hits some mysterious emotional chord deep inside of me, when Kevin slid me into the perfect spot where I could watch Billy’s fingers play that gorgeous, resonant synth line through the gap.
The industrial-flavored, and highly relevant to the current state of internet gullibility, “World is a Cube,” featuring Billy on lead vocals was extra crunchy and proved that Sam isn’t the only Brouse brother with as sexy voice (and hey, “if you disagree, then you are fake news!”). Dosio brought down the house with a scorching, funky version of “Unparalyzer” as Sam pounded the keys like a madman. True to Papadosio’s generous style, we were treated to two encore songs: the crowd-pleasing “We are Water” and an extra-hard rocking version of “Giving You Up” that had all of us clapping and singing along.
All in all, this show was the perfect ending to a week of gratitude. I’m so grateful I have Papadosio and LITZ’s music in my life, and I’m just as grateful for the amazing family of fans I’ve discovered as a result of that music. I can’t wait to see what both amazing bands are going to do in 2019. I know I’ll be attending as many of theirs shows as possible because “There’s no stopping here, baby/ No end to this night.”