Written by Michael Stegner
Photos by PhatRob O’Brien
FRIDAY NIGHT RECAP
Papadosio made their long awaited return to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky last weekend for a 2-night run at The Madison Theater in Covington. The shows marked the beginning of their Spring tour in support of their newest album, Content Coma.
As a general rule of thumb, the five-piece of Ohio natives love to make stops in Cincinnati or Covington at least once a year, but it had been nearly two years since their last show in town. Since the local fans were itching for their Dosio fix, it seemed logical for the band to host a double header weekend filled with after parties and lots of great supporting acts.
The after parties were an opportunity for Papadosio’s members to show off their side projects- Earthcry (Anthony Thogmartin’s experimental electronic music) and Brether (Billy and Sam Brouse’s new collaborative project which announced they were working on a studio album during their set Friday night). They were held next door at Madison Live both Friday and Saturday nights.
Starting off the weekend on Friday was Funk You, a progressive power-funk band based out of Augusta, Georgia. While I was unable to make it to the venue early enough to catch them preform, I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of their album by one of the venue security guards (thanks Dylan!). As a testament to the quality of the music, the album has remained on repeat in my car’s CD player ever since.
Next up was a band called Cycles, a chilled out psychedelic three-piece with a soulful sound that blended many genres. As the crowd continued to file into the venue, their set picked up and kept the mood fun as the excitement for Papadosio grew. Cycles is a band I would recommend checking out if you haven’t heard them before. They could very well be headlining their own show next time they return to The Madison.
The party officially began around 10:15 when Papadosio took to the stage. The crowd realized almost instantly that we were in for quite the show because the band started with a very rare and “heavy” opener- TV Song.
There were smiles all throughout the room as they segued right into The Eyes Have Eyes, which featured an incredible visual display of hundreds of close-up images of human eyes. The band had taken to social media a while back asking their fans to send pictures of their eyes to be used during their live shows, and it was amazing to see how they ended up bringing that idea to life. Although they were flashing too quickly to tell if my own eyes made the final cut, I like to think that they did!
They continued right into a dreamy rendition of Pool of Stars without stopping the music. Over the past few months, this song has grown into a very different version of the studio recording that is on their new album as they play it live on stage.
One of the highlights of Friday night came next during an extra long version of Oracle Theme. I have attended more Papadosio shows than I could count and have never before seen anybody even attempt to crowd surf- until now. The crowd did a decent job of keeping him up for at least 60-90 seconds, and you could tell that even the band members were getting a kick out of seeing it happen!
Papadosio kept working their magic as they continued playing a wide variety of songs spanning their entire catalog. Advocate of Change, Liminal Daybreak, and Fuse were all amazing, and I was excited when I heard the new version of Now That You Know that they played. It was almost an entirely different song compared to the original version they’ve been playing for years.
As the night continued and the band was really synced up musically, they began to bring the set to a close with Fire Rite into Anima Mundi. Just as I thought they were about to leave the stage, they began playing The Eyes Have Eyes again for a very powerful and energetic conclusion to an unbelievable set. To the satisfaction of the cheering crowd, they returned for an encore- New Love. It was the perfect end to night one.
A lot of people hung around next door for Brether’s afterparty. Since Billy and Sam have not played too many shows with their new side-project, many fans were eager to hear them live for the first time, including myself. I was glad to find out that they sounded very similar to Papadosio. It was like removing a few layers of the full band’s music, which makes sense since Billy and Sam create some of the most unique aspects of Papadosio’s sound. After a long night of music, smiles, and friends, it was time to go home and rest up for tomorrow’s festivities.
SATURDAY NIGHT RECAP
With one night already under our belts, returning to The Madison for night two seemed like a continuation of the dream that had come true the night before. While many people were only able to attend one of the two shows, there was no shortage of repeat attendees on Saturday that were recognizable from the night before.
Starting the night off on Saturday was Near Earth Objects, a local group from Cincinnati who I had never heard of. I didn’t get the chance to see them either unfortunately, but I’ve since checked out their music and I will now be on the lookout for more upcoming local shows! They have a spacey but slightly heavy and melodic indie sound that compares to some of Papadosio’s newer material. I can definitely see why they chose them to be the opening act.
Next up was After Funk, a soulful and groovy Canadian band who I was excited to see for the second time. The vocals from this group’s singer and keyboardist Yanick Allwood are not something to understate- they were amazing! As their name suggests, our brothers from the North are quite funky indeed!
With the upstairs balcony open on Saturday (it was closed on Friday), it was difficult to tell whether the crowd was any bigger, but as Papadosio took the stage and people filed closer to the front, it became obvious that they had sold more Saturday night tickets.
They opened their set with a song that was difficult to name because it was a different version of the original. I have seen people calling it Ear to Ear 2.0 online, so I will call it that as well. Anthony was using an effect on his voice that gave it a similar sound to the vocals on Write, Sing, Play, Mix.
Another rare song from their early years came next- pH Deez. Papadosio really knows how to treat their Cincinnati fans to some rarities! At this point of the show is where the band played the first of five songs with a water theme.
Whether or not the water theme was intentional is up for debate, but when you get to hear Fanfare for the Rain People, Puddles for Oceans, Snorkle, We are Water, AND Find Your Cloud in a single set, it’s hard to imagine it being a coincidence.
There was a very fun Skipswitch thrown into the water package between an intriguing Puddles and the ever-changing and improvisational Snorkle.
With so many rarities, extended songs, new versions, and more, I was stoked to hear the one song I was hoping to hear most from their new album- Write, Sing, Play, Mix. I could tell by the crowd’s reaction that many others were hoping to hear it as well.
Find Your Cloud was their final song before they left the stage, and they stretched it out long enough that they had to eliminate one of their encore songs from the setlist to stay within time limits. Nonetheless, they DID indeed return to the stage for a single encore, Improbability Blotter, which was the icing on the cake of an insane double header.
The Earthcry afterparty was more crowded than Friday night’s, and Anthony was riding the waves of the incredible Dosio show he had just finished as he laid down some amazing electronic tracks.
The time of the night that always beckons had finally arrived, and I had to go home. My weekend of Dosio had come to an end, and was to be filed away in my memories with all the other shows.
They will continue with some venue shows across the east coast throughout March and April before gearing up for an intense summer of festivals and special events.
Before the big weekend began, I caught up with the band after their soundcheck on Friday afternoon to discuss their new music, returning to the midwest, and their plans for Spring tour and the upcoming festival season.
Jamwich: Now that it’s been out for a few months, what has it been like taking the Content Coma song catalog on the road?
MIKE: There’s some extended parts compared to the studio version on stage for sure. There’s some things we’ve been doing that aren’t even on the album.
ANTHONY: Each song is different when we play it live. You take different things like how does the crowd react, how do we react, is this boring for us, and you think, “How can we have fun with this?”
Jamwich: What made you decide to throw such a banger for your tour opener?
ANTHONY: We haven’t played Cincinnati in a while and we knew we were going to go out east this tour. We wanted to get this one in there before it ended up being like 2 years. We always find ourselves saying, “Wait… We haven’t played there in a while! We need to figure something out soon.”
Jamwich: Although we are in Covington, not Ohio, what is it like returning to your home state’s area now that you’ve been based out of Ashville for a few years?
MIKE: We’re around so many friends and family it’s ridiculous. Anytime we are anywhere in Ohio. They all come out, its so awesome!
Jamwich: What is the future looking like for Papadosio? What things are you most looking forward to this year?
ROB: We have that sold out cave show in the Caverns in Tennessee that we’re really excited for.
ANTHONY: Headlining Red Rocks is always a big one too.
MIKE: We’ve got Summer sequence in Ashville at Pisgah Brewing Company coming up. We have a lot of really awesome individual exciting concerts that are kind of one off shows which are going to be a lot of fun.
Jamwich: How does the live visual art aspect play into your concert experience for your fans and yourselves?
SAM- We’ve been videotaping from the front of house and slowly we’re going to integrate more video cameras into our visualizers and tape a bunch of stuff. When I’m on stage and I’m thinking I need to do something more interesting or pick it up, a lot of times I don’t realize that its really interesting what Dustin is doing visually and it gives us space to really explore the music and for people to still be stimulated. It kind of allows us to create a whole world on stage rather than really having to focus on having to drive the music to the next place. We have a lot of time and space built into the music to really get out there.
MIKE- It’s this living and kind of breathing organism the way Dustin, our current LED guy, is tying so many artists together with his light show. The way he does it is really impressive when we just let him shine and do his thing, allowing him to just let loose but be creative at the same time. We’ve worked with a lot of artists over the years but we’re really happy with the way he’s been doing everything.
SAM: Yeah, especially when Dustin gets the chance to projection map stuff. I think that is really excellent and cool. That is something we’ve never really done. When we were out West, we just had a projector and in a lot of rooms we didn’t even set up screens. He basically just projected everything onto the room and made the room itself the art. It was really cool.
ANTHONY: We also use our signals from our instruments to control aspects of the lighting rig, so when you see someone play a note you’ll notice that behind them something will change. That’s something we’ve been trying to figure out for years and Dustin was able to get that system going for us.
Jamwich: Would you describe the theme of Content Coma as a negative or positive outlook on the way digital content is taking over our lives?
BILLY: I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. There are definitely bad aspects of 24/7 stimulation, obviously, but it’s cool that everyone is totally connected at the same time. There’s also bad parts about that too. It is really just more of our observation of what’s going on in the world.
SAM: When I first was thinking about it and we were putting it all together, I was definitely frustrated with people (mostly myself) being disconnected and constantly checking their phone. It sort of kicked us into high gear and we realized that we need to make the most possible content and then embrace that because we can use it to our advantage. It is beginning to switch in our brains now and we’re realizing that we can give people all this interesting content and work together to make the content better rather than just swimming in the sea of it all.
Jamwich: What music have you been recently listening to?
ANTHONY: We have been releasing these spotify playlists called “Seasonal Shifts” so every season you can come check out what we’ve been listening to on the road. We’ve really been having fun with that and it’s been growing a lot recently.
Jamwich: What are your thoughts on the venue change for Resonance this year?
(Papadosio just announced that they will be hosting Resonance for the 6th year in a row, and tickets are available here.)
MIKE: I hear there is a lake. I like swimming in lakes, and I like trees and the woods. And I especially like dancing on grass. I think that basically sums up the whole venue change right there. Nobody likes to dance on gravel.