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The Dodos at the Biltmore Cabaret

The Dodos at the Biltmore, Oct 26 2010. Jessica Bardosh photo

The Dodos at the Biltmore, Oct 26 2010. Jessica Bardosh photo

Review and photos – The Dodos at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Oct 26 2009

– review by Alex Hudson/photos by Jessica Bardosh

The Dodos‘ latest release, Time to Die, is being pegged as their “mature” album, favouring as it does texture and melody over the frenzied energy of their early work. Anyone concerned that the Dodos have gone soft, however, had their doubts put to rest on Monday night, as the San Francisco trio delivered an energized set to a jam-packed Biltmore.

The performance began with a raucous version of “Paint the Rust”, with singer/guitarist Meric Long firing off slide riffs as his vocals alternated between a deep croon and a strangled yelp. Behind him, drummer Logan Kroeber pounding out thundering beats, while newcomer Keaton Snyder thrashed away at a battered-looking garbage can.

Not all of the set was quite so unhinged as the first song. “Two Medicines” was chugging and robotic, while “Fables” was so sweetly catchy that it could have almost passed for a nursery rhyme. The stage lights were turned off for a haunting take on “Troll Nacht”, during which the Dodos were only visible by the green and blue lights tied around their wrists. Much of the tune was based around Snyder’s plunking vibraphone, although God knows how he could see what he was doing in the dark.

The Dodos ended the night on the same frenzied note it began, blazing through the blog favourite “Fools” before launching into an epic version of “The Season”. During the latter, Long joined Kroeber on percussion, and helped hammer out an extended tribal jam before returning to guitar for a breathtaking coda. It showed that, even though the Dodos’ new album is quieter than their last, they still know how to rock as hard as ever.

New Zealand trio Ruby Suns, who charmed the crowd by explaining that Canada is to the USA as New Zealand is to Australia (“and Australia sucks!”), opened the evening. The three members switched off between guitars, percussion and synthesizers, and their sunny Afro-pop style sounded like a cross between Paul Simon‘s Graceland and Animal Collective‘s Merriweather Post Pavilion.

With burbling, electronic ambience mixing with summery melodies and pulsing dance beats, don’t be surprised if the group’s upcoming album (due out early next year) earns them a bigger following on this side of the Pacific.

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