Written by Alejandro Beach
Papadosio has long been one of my favorite bands in the jam scene. The ebb and flow of their sonic palate is at times, blissful and care free, while at others, oozing with the darkness of progressive space rock. The five-piece jamtronica band is the culmination of over a decade of the meticulous synthesis of organic and electronic. The improvisational pioneers have, with every show and every studio release, pushed the boundaries of their musical spectrum even further, never fully conforming to one prescribed genre. In a state of constant evolution, Papadosio has sometimes left the forefront of my musical focus, but with their most recent studio album, “Content Coma”, they are on a blazing upward trajectory to greatness.
I admittedly have a proclivity for driving six hours round trip in one day to see a band that I’ll be, again, be seeing ten minutes from my house the very next day. When that band is Papadosio? Well, it’d suffice to say that when the Thanksgiving run between Pittsburgh and Columbus was announced, there was never really a moment that I considered going to just one of the shows. As I packed myself into the car, it dawned on me that a three hour solo car ride to Columbus would be the perfect time to renew my subscription to Papadosio’s Bandcamp, and catch up with their recently released live sets.
Darkness was just pulling over a cloudy Midwest sky when I caught the first glimpse of the Columbus skyline. The connection I have with this city is based almost solely on the band I would see later that night. Each of my prior three visits to Columbus, in fact, has been to see Papadosio perform. Further, just thirty miles behind me is Legend Valley, the home of Resonance Music and Arts Festival, a festival that Papadosio regularly headlines. This pocket of southern Ohio is, after all, where Papadosio began their journey. With a few hours to spare before Mungion opened up the night at the Newport Music Hall, I had the chance to peruse a quirky market housed in a warehouse with some friends, and have a few drinks at a pinball-themed bar.
“Ahem”, I awkwardly gestured to the woman manning the box office, “I think I should be on the guest…”
“Name?” She asked, not looking up from her phone.
I told the stone faced woman my name, swiped the envelope containing my ticket, and photo pass (more on how much the mere presence of that photo pass stressed me out later), and resigned myself to the fact that I may never get used to telling people that I’m on a guest list, let alone to see one of my favorite bands.
A short whisk of a metal detector, and a tear along the perforated fold of my ticket later, the realization suddenly set in that I, the guy whose only photography experience is my piss poor attempts to capture fleeting moments on my iPhone, has a photo pass. What happened next could probably be compared to the equivalent of a robot short-circuiting for a brief moment, followed by a reboot which was kick started by a very, very tall glass of beer. Considering the state of affairs, I saw myself with three options: 1) I could snap some of those piss poor iPhone photos I mentioned earlier, 2) find the nearest Walmart, buy a camera and a copy of “Photography for Dummies”, or 3) find a photographer at the show and beg for a few shots. To my extreme fortune, Steve Mack, a genuinely warm person, quietly found his way beside me, slowly raising his camera to take a shot of Mungion, and stopped to watch just long enough for me to implore him to save my ass. Steve, after hearing me out, agreed to help out, so you’ll see his incredible shots throughout this write up.
With the photography stress alleviated, I could finally focus on one of my favorite new acts, Mungion. This particular group of jazz-influenced progressive fusion freaks is cut from a totally different cloth than damn near anything I’ve seen come out of the jam scene. The Chicago-based group effortlessly rips through intricately laid out riffs, rhythmically superior drum and bass grooves, and astonishingly expressive improvisational sections. Mungion has every right to be where they’re at for having only been formed a few years ago. Bands with the level of compositional and technical prowess that Mungion has attained usually shy away from improvisation at the level that they consistently perform at. With their diverse skill set, Mungion has a very bright future ahead of them.
Part of the reason that I’ve become so enamored with Papadosio over the years has a lot to do with the novelty of their live shows. I’ve totally lost count of how many times I’ve seen the group perform, but each is almost like seeing them for the first time. There’s a degree of wonder that goes into a live Papadosio set. Will they jam this song for twenty minutes, or will that segue lead into that song? Maybe they’ll play a song entirely different than they ever have, adding textures here, and stripping it down to its psychedelic core over there. There’s really no telling with this quintet of musical cosmonauts, and that’s exactly what keeps me coming back.
Tonight, Papadosio opened up their set with heavy hitter “The Eyes Have Eyes”. Leaving no musical stone unturned, the boys wasted no time delving into a dark and progressive improvised section, before returning to “Eyes” and moving into a fan-favorite, “Garden”. Garden has long been one of my personal favorites, and ironically so, as it is one of their few songs that they seldom expand upon in a live setting. Papadosio’s recently released album, “Content Coma” received some love on the next track of the set list “Liminal Daybreak”, an airy and dream-like song that induces a feeling not unlike what coasting through the sky must feel like. Moving on into “Bypass Default” meant taking a closer look into the more experimental part of the bands evolution, while the ebullience of Dosio’s new track “Fire Rite” showed that these guys were bound and determined to take their audience on a musical roller coaster this evening.
After segueing “And This is What He Thought” into an extended “Skipswitch”, Papadosio continued to heavily represent their latest release by finishing the set with “Write Sing Play Mix”, a song that, while I didn’t care for at first, I’ve come to grow very fond of. Guitarist, vocalist, and electronic hardware madman, Anthony Thogmartin makes rare use of his vocoding skills in the beginning of the song, and in contrast, he repeats the lyrical theme, but with clean vocals instead at the close of the song. “Write Sing Play Mix”, in that sense, captures the essence of what Papadosio is; a band that strives to bridge the gap between traditional instrumentation and electronic production, blurring the lines between genres, and ultimately evolving the art form of creating music along the way.
Papadosio returned to the stage for a double encore including “Cloud Found”, and a heavily jammed out “Curve”, a song that is a true return to the bands Ohio roots. Having such a fitting end to the set left a sea of smiling faces in the room, and that feeling of wanting more to eat even after an ungodly sized meal, because it was just that damn good.
Luckily for me, I’d be getting my next serving of tasty jams the following night in Pittsburgh.
The Eyes Have Eyes XL
Bypass Default ][
And This is What He Thought
Write Sing Play Mix