By Chadbyrne R. Dickens
Photos by Adam Mautner
“The untold want by life and land ne’er granted,
Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.” -Walt Whitman
In life, some things are meant to be partnered together like peanut butter and jelly, Astaire and Rogers, a cigarette with a drink or a hippie in a tie-dye. On August 23rd, an intimate gathering of dedicated music lovers experienced another ideal partnership: a 3-hour cruise on Manhattan’s East River with the dynamic sounds of the band, Dopapod. CEG presented a Rocks Off cruise aboard the vessel The Half Moon, a fun concert experience on an intimate party boat that travels to the Statue of Liberty before retuning back to port.
The pleasantly astral sounding and quintessential instrumental quartet of Dopapod consists of Eli Winderman (keys), Neal “Fro” Evans (drums), Rob Compa – (guitar/vocals) and Chuck Jones (bass). Although young men, the line-up has already performed at many of the most known Festivals including Camp Bisco, Bonnaaroo, Bear Creek, Burning Man and recently a Phish SPAC after-party. Departing port on an ideal weather night, under darkened skies, still waters and a glistening Manhattan skyline, one was pushed to the precipice of excitement in anticipation of an enlighting night of music on the high seas.
Although Dopapod is not yet a household name across the musical landscape, they possess a vocal and overtly loyal fan base. Just moments into their Primus cover of “John the Fisherman” one could easily locate a number of fans dancing, jerking and swaying simultaneously as each note emitted from the stage in passionate memory recall and appreciation. The Dopapod cruise was my sixth musical cruise this summer and often many on board choose to herd upstairs for conversation, a smoke break or to enjoy the wind in their hair. The downstairs dance floor, in front of the stage, was full throughout with frenetic dancing so thick one could barely pass through.
Dopapod is a genre-transcending band known for heavy experimentation, improvisation and risk-taking attempts to break boundaries and push envelopes while maintaining a professional and stylish sound unique to them. Although each song moved into the next through a smooth transition from groove to another flawless and adventurous romp through the senses, those unfamiliar with the band slowly began to nod towards the die-hard fans in newfound affinity for their acceptance of the adventure. The tune that makes the strongest case for a newcomer’s conversion is, “Trapper Keeper” – with the funky bass line and up-temp time signature, with opportunity for both guitar and keyboard solos before melding into a complete band crescendo of energy and emotion. It is a song that both jam and electronic fans would be compelled to dance hard.
A very innovative and catchy song that best encapsulates what Dopapod represents is “Black & White.” It is initially deliberate, allowing the audience in slowly with melodic hooks and sly sensual lines. As the Dopapod dudes parlay more energy, the song evolves with rapid pace until closing with quickly multiplying intensity that ultimately pays off with a rewarding peak. “Black & White” exemplifies the jam style of a band that takes varied paths inside of a song that may commence within the sphere of rock, but ultimately steers into the realm of old-school psychadelia.
An important addition to the euphoric happenings on the tight ship was the impressive work of the lighting designer, Luke Stratton. It isn’t often that the lighting man gets notice at all (Chris Kuroda, Marc Brickman, Jeff Waful) because often designers install a lighting scheme that works contrary to the music. However, Stratton’s concept not only enhanced the overall experience of the gig, but his work stood out on his own as exemplary, despite the challenge of working within the confines of a small boat, and left many buzzing about his efforts long after the music stopped.
Dopapod are taking off with quick ascension, proving they are a band to watch as they discover unknown musical worlds and sounds. With over 50 shows scheduled in just the next 10 weeks, one would be best served to join in on their voyage.
Set List: John the Fisherman, Black & White, Bubblebrain, Trapper Keeper, Roid Rage, Vol. 3 #86, Nuggy Jawson, My Elephant vs. Your Elephant, FABA