Dopapod made lemonade Friday night in Columbus, OH following their gig at Woodlands Tavern getting canceled due to coronavirus, where they performed a full, in-studio quarantine concert at Weird Music Studios.
While over 1,200 people were watching at the height of the broadcast, just 11 people sat in the control booth pulling the levers and pushing the buttons to make it happen. From Dopapod lighting director Luke Stratton operating the band’s full light rig that they brought into the studio, to the team at Ninja Video who made sure everyone at home was getting the best views possible. While the actual performers in Dopapod prepared for the show with a bountiful harvest of Bob Evans just up the road, Dopapod the crew was in crunch mode as this whole concert had been conceived, planned, and announced less than 24 hours prior.
As the band sound-checked ambient jams, just killing time before the metaphorical big red LIVE light went on, mission control was aflutter with “transparent files” and wifi passwords. The planned start time came and went as the improvisation became more driven, eventually rolling back to a Pink Floyd landscape as the final levers were pulled. Everyone in the control booth was doing something to get this thing up and running except for me. The adults were working. Dopapod, the band, seemed almost unaffected as they kept the jam going, waiting for the inevitable cue.
And we’re live, dropped straight into the groove. Even with all of the effortless exploration going on before the video started, the band clearly turned it on for the cameras. The jam flowed seamlessly into “Off The Cuff”, and standing in the control room, it felt for a moment like being at the zoo; watching them through the glass. That is, if they kept the lions and antelopes in the same cage. The theme of the night was smooth segues, as the band went into “Eight Years Ended”, and the thought crossed one’s mind, at that point, “are they just going to keep playing the whole time, segueing song after song?”
The answer eventually came after “Flipped”, when the band ended the song and engaged in a little banter between themselves, Stratton in the booth, and all the folks at home. At those points between songs, the webcast took on somewhat of a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” mixed with an NPR “Tiny Desk” format as Stratton acted as an intermediary between the viewers and the band. Someone cracked the joke that it’s the new “Dopapodcast.”
Eventually, we returned to the music with “Picture in Picture”, which featured a sizable “Bob Evans” vocal jam to open the song. At that point, the show had been a lot more exploratory than most any first set you’re likely to hear, and there were some real uninhibited moments shining through the cameras. Somewhere along the way, the band started taking requests, but only in the sense that Stratton would say nearly every song in the band’s expansive catalog, as suggested by viewers, and, statistically, the band played at least some of them. After a request for “the one with the chorus in Spanish,” the band launched into a rare disco version of “Mucho” which began an onslaught of segues, starting with a “Bubble Brain” that would go unfinished, back into a normal tempo “Mucho”, an unfinished “Blast”, and finally back into “Mucho” again. By this point, it was safe to say that any walls between the band and its fans had come down and any distance had proved irrelevant.
Guitarist Rob Compa then decided to tell an extended anecdote about his recent interest in the Grateful Dead. You could hear the gasps coming from couches across the country when Compa said that he never really got into the Dead before for the same reason that he is finally now getting into them: “I fall asleep and I wake up in the middle of this jam. I don’t know where it began or ended.” So, on a recent plane trip, Rob decided to put on what he said was a 45 minute “Playing in the Band”, which featured a lengthy, blissful jam that lulled him to sleep, only to be ripped from his slumber by Donna Jean Godchaux‘s trademark wail at the end of every “Playing” from 1972–79. Rob then pulled out his phone to play a solid two-minutes of that very “Playing in the Band” into the microphone to prove his point.
After audible chants for a Grateful Dead cover coming from the folks at home, Dopapod returned to the music with “Super Bowl”, which featured a smooth transition into “Turnin’ Knobs”, where the “Bob Evans” vocal jam was reprised to the delight of Midwestern viewers. The band noted that next month will mark one year since they’ve returned to touring, which prompted some ghoulish chuckling. When Stratton asked the band if they had any favorite memories of the past year, Compa quickly replied with “this past week has been great,” which drew laughter from the rest of the band and everyone in the booth.
A request for “French Bowling” was honored, which also sparked bassist Chuck Jones to posit that “French Bowling” is, to him, “the most Dopapod-y song.” There was a tangible moment in “French Bowling”, as the song began to build with the sort of raw energy that the band can only produce live, where it actually felt like a real concert. As the show’s scheduled end time came and went, drummer Neal “Fro” Evans kept the beat going and carried the band into an ethereal soundscape where the song didn’t really end because it never really began, ultimately segueing into “Velcro” somewhere down the line. Finally, the band concluded that they had time for only one more, and chose their final song for the foreseeable future to be the recently-released “Dracula’s Monk”, a song that, ironically, came with an in-studio performance video.
With that, the band bid farewell to those watching from their couches and signed off, wishing fans a Merry Christmas in case they don’t see each other until then. As the concert ended, Stratton kept the stream going and played a couple of topical songs over the PA, including R.E.M.‘s “It’s The End Of The World”, followed by Phish‘s “Down With Disease”. As the band filed out of the studio, I asked Compa what they do now with the live stream over and the rest of the tour canceled. His answer, simply: “go home.”
What happened in that studio, in that booth, and on computers around the world (there were viewers in Mexico, Columbia, Australia, and more) was strange. It was risky, and it was daring. It was a group of music industry professionals working together and reacting to things as they happened. It was trying something instead of throwing their hands up and waiting it out. This is the kind of ingenuity and creativity that makes bands like Dopapod so unique and special, and it’s going to be what keeps them, and their scene as a whole, alive in these trying times.
Watch Dopapod’s quarantine concert from Weird Music Studios in Columbus from Friday night. Photographer Adam Berta was on-site to capture a gallery of images, available below. Dopapod has encouraged donations to their Venmo (@Dopapod) if fans feel so inclined as to help the band through these uncertain times.
Dopapod – Weird Music Studios – 3/13/20
Setlist: Dopapod | Weird Music Studios | Columbus, OH | 3/13/20
Set: Jam > Off The Cuff > Eight Years Ended, Flipped, Picture in Picture , Mucho  > Bubble Brain  > Mucho > Blast  > Mucho, Super Bowl > Turnin’ Knobs , French Bowling > Velcro, Dracula’s Monk
 Bob Evans vocal jam
 Disco version