Written by Michael Tucker
Photos by Roger Gupta
Papadosio has been my favorite band since 2012. Watching the Boys continually climb to new creative pinnacles has been such a joyful and riveting ride for me; no other group of musicians has inspired so much positive growth in my life, given me such a sense of community, exhibited such a great degree of artistic experimentation, and hosted such crazy-fun, next-level, intergalactic dance parties while leaving enough emotional space for intimate connections and soulful reflections to develop. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the announcement this past spring that Dosio would be playing a full Nine Inch Nails tribute set at Resonance. I already had no intentions of missing Resonance with its always stacked line-up, great vibes, and colorful and creative fans— Ohio, you know how to party! —but wowzah, this was beyond anything I had imagined possible. The music of Nine Inch Nails, with its hard-edged, dynamic industrial rock full of synthesizers, beats, and guitars tied into paradoxically tender and gorgeous piano melodies and bleaker than black lyrics and uber- sexy vocals along with Trent Reznor’s iconic image, utterly set my world on fire during the early Nineties; I was nineteen years old, and in the perfect place and time for angst-ridden music, when Pretty Hate Machine was released in 1989. I never thought I would be given the chance to reconcile the hopeful neo-hippie, whose evolution Dosio’s music had helped to prompt, with the angst-filled, industrial music loving, pseudo-goth I had formerly been in the early nineties. My musical fandom had finally come full circle.
Backstage at Mad Tea Party Jam this past year, I had the pleasure of talking to my favorite pianist, Sam Brouse. As I completely geeked out about how hyped I was for the Nine Inch Nails tribute set, he casually said, with characteristic Dosio humility and humor, “We’re going to try not to make it suck.” Not a chance, Sam.
Flash forward 3 months. While waiting on a porta potty an hour or so before Dosio is scheduled to play their tribute set, I had a conversation with a fiery red -haired chick who told me, “I like Dosio. They’re really good, but I f*cking love Nine Inch Nails. I’m worried about this one. They better not mess it up.” Not a chance, lady. I reassured her that The Boys would do it up proper and headed for the stage to get a good spot with a full gallon of water in hand to keep the rail crew hydrated.
An hour later, I stood on the rail in front of the impressive stage at Legend Valley in the unseasonably warm evening air looking up at the massive stage, swirled with fog, with goosebumps of anticipation for what was about to take place. I glanced over at my partner and favorite festival companion, Tara, who stood on my immediate right; she looked giddy with anticipation. To my left, were Chris Crawford and Shianne Murphy, one of the coolest couples with whom I have ever had the pleasure of raging. Chills went up and down my spine. Magic was about to happen. The lights went down for Dosio to take the stage. I asked Tara if she could pinch me to make sure that this was real life. (I do this often at Dosio shows. How did I fall into a life this ridiculously good anyway?) Shit was about to get real, and boy, did it ever. The lights flashed on and off violently as The Boys played a wash of atmospheric noise, and I realized they had gone all out for this one; they were all five onstage in all black attire, wearing makeup and black EYELINER. Rob McConnell had a scarf over his head and was wearing a torn shirt, which he would later rip off; he also later pulled off the scarf to reveal he had shaved his head completely bald. Mike Healy, with whom Tara and I had spoken to briefly while he chowed down on some sort of wrap during Aqueous’ first set, was sporting a super-fresh Mohawk; I’m talking super-duper fresh because he had normal Healy hair when we spoke to him a few short hours ago. He must have shaved it right before the set. Good game, Dosio.
As the noise developed into the rhythmic and recognizable opening sounds of “Into the Void” from one of my favorite albums, The Fragile, and we all went crazy dancing, my first thought, was “Holy Shit! Sam sounds like Trent.” Now, I have always thought Sam sounded like Trent, particularly on “TV Song;” I told him as much during our conversation at MTPJ, and he seemed excited to hear it, but oh yes, my mind was blown once again. Anthony Thogmartin’s perfectly creepy, whispery back -up vocals and guitar riff were just as dead on as Sam’s voice. Dosio, of course, obviously did not just dial in a note for note carbon copy of the song; it included a funked- up Billy Brouse twist on the keys during its instrumental middle section. Next, I was completely floored when I heard Tony’s voice — Wait a minute! He sounds like Trent too— “Hey Pig, yeah you. . . ” as he came to the front of the stage with a hand-held microphone and proceeded to show the crowd his best Trent Reznor stage moves during The Downward Spiral’s “Piggy.” This was on my list of songs I wanted to hear the most, and the boys did it up right. Healy completely crushed the drums (that breakdown!), Rob served up some fierce bass, Billy had me smiling (as always), and Sam’s keys at the end sent me sideways. Staying with the swine theme, Tony informed his captive audience of “Piggies” that it was “Time to march!” as the boys tore into a blistering “March of the Pigs.” Once again, Tony was front and center with his microphone and intense, smoldering stage presence (Wait! What?) until he stepped back to his usual spot to shred on his guitar. Mohawk Healy’s drums and Trent-a-like Tony’s guitar made me bang my head really hard during the instrumental “Eraser,” and I completely lost my shit during “The Perfect Drug,” another favorite. I glanced over at Tara, Natalie Druce and Christian Mauricio, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of dancing on the rail countless times, and saw that they too were going berserk until we all melted into Sam and Anthony’s luscious vocals which were so exquisitely wrapped around not only each other but were also enveloped in the tender piano and synth melody at the end: “Take me with you. Without you everything falls apart.” Indeed!
When I realized Dosio was launching into the bombastically, epic instrumental and progressive rock beauty of “Just Like You Imagined,” I had to scrape myself off the sky. I used to rock out so hard to this track in my room when The Downward Spiral was out at age 22. The sum of its parts— the exquisite dark and jazzy piano, pounding drums, stabbing guitar, throbbing bass, and Billy’s brilliant synth under-textures, beeps and chirps— all added up to become real show-stopping highlight for me. I saw a lot of Merps (myself included) getting hot under the collar from Sam’s vocals during “Closer.” The universally recognizable track turned into a swelteringly ecstatic dance party as the entire crowd throbbed and bopped as one.
“All the Love in the World” totally made Tara’s night as this was the song she most wanted The Boys to cover. Sam’s golden baritone was perfect for this song, and Anthony’s dueling vocals added an undertone of brotherly, band-mate rivalry to the beat-driven second half of this standout track from With Teeth. From “The Hand That Feeds,” Our Boys tore right into a diamond-hard “Wish” complete with Tony unabashedly saying the “Fistf*ck” lyric. It’s a good thing the rail was padded because I got a little carried away headbanging. Sam managed to sound exactly like the immortal Bowie on “I’m Afraid of Americans,” and it was surreal watching Dosio revisit this one during these dark times. “Head Like a Hole” (!!!!!) brought the house down in true Dosio style: ass shaking, mosh pits and all. The encore, “Hurt” gave me that chill-inducing, tearful moment I experience at every Papadosio show as I held onto Tara and sang along and wept.
Seeing my current favorite cover one of my favorite bands from my wasted youth was both magical and surreal. I had high hopes, and Papadosio, as always, surpassed my expectations and hit it out of the park.
Check out the magic for the first time or relive it here:
I would be remiss if I failed to mention a few other Resonance moments. The Main Squeeze’s Saturday afternoon Stevie Wonder tribute was as stellar as Dosio’s tribute set. I had the privilege of dancing next to my best friend and partner, Tara, along with the coolest Mom in music fandom, Connie McConnell, while the soulful, funky band played spectacular versions of the legend’s music. Highlights included “Higher Ground,” where the boys did the unthinkable and beat The Red Hot Chili Peppers at the cover game —no small feat here— and “Isn’t She Lovely?” which they dedicated to the Brouse Brothers. (And come on, who among you doesn’t find Billy and Sam lovely?) Singer Corey Frye wished the younger Brouse brother a happy birthday from on stage, and Sam walked up to the fence behind the stage and busted out his groovy dance moves and smile. Tara and I had the privilege of running into the delightful, full of loving vibes Corey near the Woodlands Tent, and thanked him after the set. He was so kind and appreciative as he asked our names and hugged us. The Main Squeeze went on to play a late-night set that was also total FUEGO.
I would also be remiss not to mention the EVERTHING XL Friday night Dosio set, Saturday’s lovely and super-special acoustic set which included favorites “Distant Days” and “The Big Smile,” and which featured Cassandra House doing guest vocals on “Cloud Found” followed by a regular set including the dancefloor scorcher “Polygons.” Other standout sets included Litz’s super- funky Friday afternoon set, Pigeon Playing ping Pong’s late night Saturday set, and both Tauk sets.
So much gratitude goes out to Essential Productions for putting on one of the best festivals anywhere. Thank you to Papadosio for continuing to surprise me since 2011. It is really no small feat to keep upping your creativity game the way you guys have— and you guys do it with so much heart. Thank you for acknowledging both the shadow and the light in your music. I have always loved your Night as much as your Day. Best wishes on your Florida and West Coast tours. Thank you, Dosio Fam for accepting Tara and me with open arms. Thank you, Resonance Family for all the good times, food, water, and hugs we’ve shared these last four years. And last but not least, thank you, Jamwich for the platform to write about music. Much love to all of you.