papadosionyePapadosio – New Years Run 2013

 by Andrew Brown; photos by Roger Gupta/Andrew Brown

If it appeases the reader, I would like to begin this review with a quick ddddddpersonal aside. Usually when I write an article or review I leave all of the heart warming thank you’s until the conclusion, but a NYE run of this magnitude deserves a different type of beginning. A personal thank you to every single soul that was at this two day extravaganza, from everyone involved in the band to any number of the music fanatics who attended. Each show would not have been the same without the love that filled that room. The only words that can come close to describe the environment of the two consecutive nights in Baltimore are respect and family. Anthony Thogmartin (Papadosio’s guitarist) expressed it himself, stating how taken back he was by how respectful, peaceful and happy the Papadosio family is by nature. Now onto the tale that unfolded before us Dosians these nights.

dop   The festivities began on December 30th, in Baltimore, MD, at Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore’s Power Plant. To begin the first night, being no strangers to Papadosio’s touring scene, Brooklyn, NY natives Dopapod opened up the evening with a riveting experimental set. Dopapod is not a band held down easily with genre labels. The closest I can attempt to pin down for the reader who has yet to hear them, which if you haven’t, then you should probably stop reading right now and research them, would be to describe Dopapod as a Progressive Rock band. I remember first seeing Dopapod at Rootwire, Papadosio’s annual music & arts festival, in 2010. At this point, they were giving out their album for free after a daytime set. As the years have passed, the band has become one of the scenes most aspiring up-and-coming acts, in my opinion, releasing three studio albums to date. During their opening set, the music produced by this phenomenal band teetered between soul-inducing dance music and sonic experimentations of the highest caliber. Genre’s we’re crossed and the fourth wall was broken. With this night’s exceptional performance, and with 2012’s Redivider being their last studio album, I hope they put out another studio album to express where they are currently at as a band.
    By the time Dopapod’s set ended, Papadosio approached the beginning of the first night’s set in a much more self-effacing manner than I had seen previously. After such a heavy set by Dopapod, the mood in which the presence of the band taking to the stage set conveyed was a very soothing sense of calm. In a setlist surprise, the band opened with a song on their album first studio album, Magreenery, entitled “-“, which this night they named “I Had The Same Dream”. Into the set two songs later, the group broke into a song off their latest album, T.E.T.I.O.S, titled “TV Song”. At this moment, an incredibly ironic juxtaposition occurred between the lyrics sung by bassist Rob McConnell, dos“I’m not trying to change, not trying to feel, why wont you just leave me be. I’ll give you all I have, take it all away, just leave me my TV”, and the many fans in the crowd using their smart phones to record the band perform the song. “Put down your phones and pay attention to what he is saying!”, I could have screamed. How these people did not realize how opposing their actions were to the songs lyrics of detaching from news cycles and technologies I will never know. As the night progressed, the band performed one of the newer tracks that they have introduced into their repertoire, titled “What’s At Stake”. When they debuted this song at Rootwire this year, Anthony Thogmartin stated that the conceptualization of the song is based upon an open letter to the opponents of gay marriage. During this love ballad, the two attendees in front of me were displaying such a passion  for each other, that after a passionate kiss, each resurfaced with gigantic open eyes with a face akin to that of a little child’s after eating a Warhead candy! It was heart warming and absolutely hilarious at the same time. During this night, we also enjoyed a highlight of “Find Your Cloud” and the encore of the evening, the classic “All I Knew”. Tired, but filled with satisfaction, we all headed back to our respective dwellings to rest our heads before the next night was to come.dddd
    Now, New Years Eve was upon us. This night’s festivities were filled with a showcase of different talents possessed by individual members of Papadosio. To open, guitarist Anthony Thogmartin performed under his side project Earth Cry. Instead of playing a set based around previous studio recordings, Thogmartin’s set was comprised completely of live and improvised music. Music in it’s purest form of experimentation. Next to grace the stage was bassist Rob McConnell’s side project Asian Teacher Factory. The difference between the two styles was shocking to the senses. Where Earth Cry possesses an element of tranquility, Asian Teacher Factory is a VERY hard driven Prog Rock band. Emphasis is needed on the very.
d0 As Papadosio’s set began, the call and response of brothers Sam and Billy Brouse’s pianos started into the first song, “The Bionic Man Meets His Past”. I enjoyed this night’s setlist much more than the previous night’s because of how constructive of a linear sonic pattern each song was placed in. As “Bionic Man” finished, the band crescendo further into “We Are Water”. Every time the band performs this song, a huge grin comes upon my face when McConnell drops the first few smooth notes of his bass into the harmony. As the setlist progressed, the wave of the crescendo continued to rise as the boys began into “Paradigm Shift”. This would be the last song of 2013. Now, as the song approached it’s climax, the clock began to countdown. “Three, Two, One! Happy New Year!”, everyone shouted, as balloons were dropped from the ceiling, loved ones embraced, new friendships were forged and the band sent the climatic bridge into hyperdrive.  Wow, what a feeling! A feeling set aside for specific occasions. Where you feel so alive, so inside of that very moment, that you can feel every nerve ending firing off throughout every inch of your body. Euphoria. Pure, unadulterated euphoria.
    Each New Years Eve, Papadosio adds at least one cover to their setlist. Last year at The National in Richmond, Virginia, the band played three consecutive Beatles tunes. After midnight they performed “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “Help From My Friends” and “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. This year, the band played one cover. A cover which appeared in the middle of a tasty Dosio sandwich might I add. The band transitioned an old favorite “Night Colors”, into a cover of Gotye’s reggae driven “State Of The Art”, and crept back into the second half of “Night Colors”. As the band has just begun sandwiching tunes this last half of the year, this “Night Colors” sandwich frankly blew my mind. Including “Night Colors”, the end of their New Years set was based around their second studio album Observations, finishing with “Snorkle”, “Giving You Up”, and “The Eyes Have Eyes”.
 pap4   The reason why Papadosio is without a doubt one of my favorite band of all time is because with every performance, they are able to attracted people of all races, ages, genders, creeds, sexual orientations, religions and lack there of. I believe that they are able to repetitively achieve this because of how strong their message of unification has become. As much as they are a band, they are also a movement. A movement toward the interconnectedness of our grand society and the further development of basic human rights using love and compassion. Over these two nights, I met men and women from all over the country and met some amazing family members from out of state that I have been yearning to meet for a very long time. Again, a personal thank you to each and every soul who attended. To every person involved in the band and every family member that gathered on these two glorious evenings. In closing, I only ask one thing of every one of you reading this article. Please, next time you attend a Papadosio experience, bring a newcomer to add to our eternally growing family. Peace, love and light to all.