Los Angeles played host to San Francisco duo and indie-scene darlings The Dodos over the weekend. While their first album, Beware of the Maniacs, put them on the map, it’s their latest effort, Visiter, which has truly made their reputation. The band consists mainly of Meric Long on guitar and Logan Kroeber on drums (with help from Joe Haener on glockenspiel and toy piano), and while such a minimal pairing could seem limiting, it seems to be the source of the band’s power.
Of course, the other big wellspring for the band is their seemingly endless energy. With virtually no pauses between songs — some of which even melded directly into one another — it’s surprising they were even able to walk offstage unassisted. Long is an impressive guitarist, if only for the amount of intensity he puts into furiously finger-picking his guitar (although his smooth voice is also undeniably engaging), and for whatever Long put into his strums, the same could be said doubly for Kroeber, who verges on superhuman. With such minimal orchestration, the drum takes on a much more prominent role. While at the hands of a lesser drummer, the band would suffer immeasurably, Kroeber manages to transfer almost as much energy to the audience as he’s putting into his drums. And therein lies the appeal of The Dodos — a seamless melding of two percussive instruments juxtaposed with smooth melodic vocals — at least in the context of a live performance.
The show drew from both their albums, including the opening songs from each one — “Red and Purple” earning a large swell of appreciation from the crowd. Given that their strengths lie in their intensity, there were a few unfortunate lulls in the evening, primarily during their slower songs, and at times it felt as if the songs had lost a bit of structure or perhaps went on a bit too long. Of course, all was forgiven and forgotten near the end when the band launched into an initially stripped-down version of arguably their most accomplished song, “The Season” – steadily, they built into what would become a wailing maelstrom of sound and intensity which left a lasting impression on the cheering audience as the band walked off-stage, only to return triumphantly for an encore.
Overall, the show offered a glimpse into the intensity, both emotional and physical, that was perhaps not visible on their albums. Despite some imbalance in the evening, it was an enjoyable performance and one I’d recommend to anyone in the mood for something just a little bit different.