Papadosio returned to its home state of Ohio last weekend to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of its 2012 album T.E.T.I.O.S. at Masonic Auditorium in Cleveland.

T.E.T.I.O.S.—the title itself an acronym for To End the Illusion of Separation—is a 20-song, two-hour album recorded by the band in a Civil War-era cabin outside Asheville, just after the band relocated to the North Carolina music haven from Ohio. Its creation marked an important shift in not only Papadosio’s life as a band but in the sound and intention of its music as well.

After ten years, this was the first time the band set out to play the album in its entirety. Originally scheduled to take place in September at Resonance Music and Arts Festival, the event was canceled due to issues outside the band’s control. Fortunately, Papadosio and its team came together to find a suitable venue and date, coinciding with the release of a long-awaited 4LP vinyl box set.

Night one opened with Cleveland-based Vibe & Direct followed by a high-energy performance from Aqueous and Friends, which included Cool Cool Cool guitarist Craig Brodhead (formerly of Turkuaz).

The lights dimmed and Papadosio took the stage to a full auditorium of eager and expectant fans. The pit was shoulder-to-shoulder, the mezzanine alive with a standing ovation from all age groups.

Even though fans already knew the setlist for the weekend, the first notes of “Direction Song” looping out of an ambient intro evoked excited movement around the room.

This feeling evolved as the band moved into an XL version of “We Are Water”, a danceable song that mixes drum and bass with a tinkling of keys, sounds, and a sample of Dr. Masaru Emoto. Leaving the standard portion, keyboardist Sam Brouse led the band into an intricate, aquatic soundscape. That’s when the real fun began. After a dive into benthic depths, the band kicked back to the song’s surface with piquant fury.

The crowd settled and guitarist Anthony Thogmartin addressed the sea of smiling faces with a smile of his own. He joked that the band “worked really hard on this setlist ten years ago,” noted that T.E.T.I.O.S. was the point when the group realized people were really listening to them, and thanked the fanbase for still coming out after all these years.

A hushed room soaked in the mellifluous notes and empowering lyrics of “The Sum”, and the song culminated in beautiful convulsions before descending into a jazzy, greenlit jam that segued into “Ear to Ear”. Then set one came to a close with a seamless XL exploration of “The Bionic Man Meet His Past…”.

During the album’s conception, Papadosio gathered artists and friends in the community to create visual art for each song on the album, to be released in a booklet that came with the original CD. Visual designer/lighting operator Dustin Klein incorporated this artwork into his visuals throughout the weekend on a screen behind the band as well as through massive projections cast on the walls of the auditorium, immersing attendees in a taste of the past as well as contemporary creations.

The second set opened with the featherlike synth intro to “Method of Control”. Drummer Mike Healy broke into a light patter pushed by the first encouraging notes of bassist Rob McConnell. Thogmartin’s spectral voice seeped into the room. The drums returned with definition. A glitchy rain from synth player Billy Brouse drizzled in and the anticipated bass line boomed out, throwing attendees into a collective bounce.

“Method” contained a sentimental, guitar-heavy jam, then rolled from a subterranean segue straight into an apocalyptic rendition of “Madre de Dios”, which one fan affectionately described as being “pulled straight from the depths of hell” and another described as “so deep she found a Balrog of Morgoth.”

“That’s kind of how it went down there,” Thogmartin laughed as the applause settled, referring to the band’s 2011 trip to the Peruvian jungle. The applause returned loud and clear.

Soft, dancing keys opened “Puddles for Oceans”, an uplifting song about leaving the isolated puddle of a selfish worldview for the vast ocean of compassion, empathy, and love. “Monochrome” was anything but monochrome. Textured, expansive, imaginative, it crept into a delicate, slinking jam, almost silent at points, and returned with shocking force to close the set.

Papadosio left the stage. The crowd glanced around. Sporadic cheers for one more song attached themselves to murmurs of uncertainty.

The band reemerged with Aqueous guitarist Mike Gantzer to an excited room and broke into a song clearly not on the album. The stage glowed red, screen ablaze with solar flares and electric light. Suddenly the lights went out and the music stopped. The audience screamed.

“Again?!” I said to myself. As did anyone who attended Secret Dreams Music & Arts Festival in August, where the power was pulled just as Gantzer stepped onstage near the end of Papadosio’s Arcade Set.

Boom! The lights flashed back. The extended ensemble raged into the Mortal Kombat theme song, and it all came full circle. Laughter among those who knew flew forth as did cheers all around. But neither could be heard for long. The jam had a sinister crunch to it, and the volume seemed cranked up higher than before. Most people were in awe or dancing maniacally, swept up in the dark industrial onslaught of music and lights.

Building up into a thunderous finale, Gantzer shredded his guitar in harmony with the band’s crescendo. And with that, night one came to a fiery finish.

Papadosio, Mike Gantzer – “Mortal Kombat Theme” – 11/25/22

[Video: Jonathan Bowen]


Night two opened with BareFuzz and loosened with a funky, feel-good set by Daily Bread. The energy in the room felt just as giddy as the night before but somehow more balanced. Papadosio emerged and began right where it left off: “…and This is What He Thought.” This melodic instrumental build-up of peaceful revelation wove into an XL version of “Cue”, a popular song that encourages humanity to realize our part in the destruction of the planet and come together to figure out ways to rectify it.

Using a method favored by Jason Takahashi, Papadosio’s visual director at the time of T.E.T.I.O.S., Klein’s visuals began using satellite images of storms as the intensity mounted to indicate the impact our actions have on the current climate crisis—another vital message of the album. Teasing notes of the next track, “Now That You Know”, Papadosio skillfully transitioned into its 2.0 version, with some unusual elements, and opened up into an awakening jam emblematic of the song’s intention.

Thogmartin spoke: “Before this, we were just playing party music. We were, like, this dance band, and people were like, ‘We’re going to go out and see the band and dance,’ right?” He talked about how, with T.E.T.I.O.S., the band decided to try something different and see what happened. He thanked the crowd for supporting this. “Because of that, we were able to do, and continue to do, and feel comfortable continuing to express ourselves in whatever way it comes to us.”

“Right Now”, a song about how the present moment is always available to climb our way out of negativity and doubt to find a sense of purpose, faded and opened into an extended instrumental sprinkled with “Stick Figure”, finally breaking into the childlike play of the song itself with an XL version to close the set.

The second set opened with an “Oracle Theme” of visionary improvisation and merged with the popular “Find Your Cloud”. Thogmartin asked everyone to sing together, and the room erupted in the heartfelt chorus known to all Dosio fans. A soft, subtle jam followed that soon launched up and took listeners on a tangled journey through cumulus, cirrus, and nimbostratus clouds alike before its return to the joyous, spiraling notes of the song’s end.

“TV Song”, a satirical song about finding solace in a television stupor, was followed by a tender “Garden” into “Planting the Seeds of Life”. Originally acoustic, but performed electric tonight, this song, the last on the album, sums up the key messages of T.E.T.I.O.S. with a call for people to realize the positive effect their actions can have in shaping the world into a garden of peaceful growth and homeostasis.

Tumultuous applause. There were smiles. Hugs. Hands clasped. Tears. As it came to a close, the album’s lasting resonance with the people in this room, both old fans and new, was emotionally palpable.

The band left the stage, and no one knew what would happen next. Waves of exclamation swept over the venue. Cheers for more. But what else could the band play? The album was finished.

After minutes of uncertain whoops and howls, whistles and claps, the band members returned, waving, and approached their instruments. Sam Brouse spoke to the crowd about a song he wrote during the T.E.T.I.O.S.-era that never made it on the album. Recovered from an old hard drive, “The Domes” was included as a bonus track on the new vinyl box set (along with the 2014 Wakarusa “Find Your Cloud”, long-held high in fan esteem as one of the best—if not the—best versions ever). It had never been played live. Until that night.

The first piano notes filled the room, and the band joined in. Replete with Brouse’s euphonic vocals, “The Domes” shines light on the destructive patterns of human beings with lines like, “Dig our own grave and never change our ways, wouldn’t it be nice if humans were here to stay?” and “Leaving our mother, leaving her to rot, oceans swell and rip us all apart,” while the chorus, “I’ve always been here. You have, too,” seems a beacon of hope through recognition and togetherness.

Speaking to Sam after the show, he said, “There are parts of that song that have been in my head over the years, you know? I’ve been like, ‘I wonder if that even still exists?’ ‘Cause I didn’t know if we had the original sessions from T.E.T.I.O.S. … I put so much love into that at one point in my life … I think it’s such a unique little song, musically … Maybe it was too different, or too—there could’ve been any number of reasons why that never made it on.”

Referencing the lyrics, he said, “That’s just being scared of climate change, obviously. But now it means something different to me. Now, it’s like, ‘How do I change my ways to be a better person?’ Not just, ‘I have no control what happens with the climate.’” He related the chorus to the idea that consciousness was eternal, that we’ve been living this life forever, and said, “I’m really happy that the song’s out, and that people are hearing it. For me, it’s very interesting to go back and relive it. What was I thinking, and why? … It’s not always easy to write lyrics, or poems, or express yourself in that way. … I think all the songs on T.E.T.I.O.S. mean something different to everyone than what it was we wanted them to hear when listening, when we wrote it, and I think that’s what’s cool.”

An attentive crowd familiarized itself with the new lyrics and sounds. Just as we thought we had it, the band broke from a standard few were acquainted with, and entered an unexpected jam with hypnotic fluidity. People responded. Dancing, cheering. “The Domes” tied things together with just the right ribbon of energy.

Elated, the audience gathered for a picture. Heart-shaped fingers filled the air. The band bowed and left the stage. “Never Ending Story” by Limahl played from the speakers. Everyone took a collective breath, and the night was complete.

Overall, T.E.T.I.O.S. is an album about realizing the knowledge we already have within us: that each of us is connected to each other, a small piece of the puzzle that makes up life on Earth in the universe. Ten years later, Papadosio proved that its message did not fall on deaf ears. There is a whole community that has been influenced by its music, who come together with the hope that each conversation and connection plants a seed in ending the illusion of separation and making the world a better place.

Papadosio – Recap – 11/26/22 

[Video: Versatile Ken Pierce]

Setlist: Papadosio | Masonic Auditorium | Cleveland, OH | 11/25/22

Set One: Direction Song XL, We Are Water XL, The Sum > Ear to Ear, The Bionic Man Meets His Past… XL

Set Two: Method of Control XL > Method Jam > Madre de Dios XL, Puddles for Oceans XL, Monochrome XL

Encore: Mortal Kombat (Theme Song) [1]

[1] w/ Mike Gantzer

Setlist: Papadosio | Masonic Auditorium | Cleveland, OH | 11/26/22

Set One: …and This is What He Thought. > Cue XL > Now That You Know XL, Right Now, Extended Intro > Stick Figure XL

Set Two: Oracle Theme XL > Find Your Cloud XL, TV Song, Garden XL > Planting the Seeds of Life

Encore: The Domes [1]

[1] FTP