Dopapod opened a two-night run at the Ardmore Music Hall on Friday night, marking their first show in front of a live audience since March 7th, 2020 at the now-shuttered Rex Theater in Pittsburgh, PA. Presented in partnership with Live For Live Music, the two-night run, live-streamed run was billed as We’re Gonna Get Through This. Now, over a year since the pandemic began, it’s finally starting to feel like we can adopt that phrase in the present tense—or even the past tense. While we may not be quite there yet, these shows—already rescheduled once due to the early winter COVID spike—are perhaps indicative of a larger-scale recovery for the concert industry.
As Keyboardist Eli Winderman explained of the shows when they were initially announced, “We didn’t know the next time we would see each other again back in March when we had to abruptly leave tour and head home. We thought it was going to be just a few months and we’d be back to normal. Obviously, that didn’t happen but now here we are announcing our first shows since the start of the pandemic and to say we’re excited is an extreme understatement. We wanted to call the event ‘We’re gonna get through this’ because we want to help all our fans stay positive and optimistic to get through the rest of this time where we can’t play shows like we used to. All things must pass as will this pandemic!”
The past year has been a story of widespread suffering sprinkled with silver linings and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. This show fell under the latter category. Tickets for this Ardmore run were not sold in the conventional sense; instead, Dopapod offered fans the chance to win a pair of “Golden Tickets” through raffles and silent auctions. Accustomed to hosting capacity crowds of 600 during normal times, only twenty (!) fans attended Friday night’s show in person, seated in pairs at high-top tables, five each on the main floor and upper balcony. With perfect sight lines, dialed-in PA sound, and plenty of room to dance. When Dopapod took the stage to emphatically punctuate their involuntary 377-day live-performance break, every single one of us felt every ounce of our privilege, making “We’re Gonna Get Through This” the understatement of the year for those who attended in person. For those not physically in the room, the livestream and Zoom dance party—projected on a screen at front of house for the band to see—offered a tangible connection from afar. Guitarist Rob Compa‘s mom even made an appearance, to the audible pleasure of both the band and the tiny audience.
Every Dopapod show is a palindromic journey in a microcosmic sense, and that notion rang true last night. Releasing a year’s worth of pent-up energy and musical rage, Dopapod metaphorically marked their new beginning in signature fashion with a deliberate synth-driven build that would soon find liftoff in the frenzied peak of “Bats in the Cave”. As Eli Winderman continued to drive the band and dazzle on keyboards, “Like a Ball” ushered in guitarist Rob Compa’s first vocals of the evening. The rhythm section of Chuck Jones (bass) and Neal “Fro” Evans (drums) had the small but effusive crowd bumping along with the beautiful stage-right harmonies of “Turn By Turn” before segueing into the rave-like feels of “Freight Train”. Hard rocker “Nuggy Jawson” closed the hour-long set, Compa’s face-melting guitar fluidly layering with the liquid trance of Winderman’s synth.
“Indian Grits” opened the second set with a decidedly different feel, one that would have felt equally at home in the funk-driven confines of New Orleans’ Tipitina’s as the first set would have in at underground dance party. The groovy bass and drums of “Mucho” kept the funk alive even as Winderman’s synth found space in ambient trance before Neal “Fro” Evans’ heavy bass drum woke the music up and brought the party back to speed. “Bubble Brain” built to a furious peak that ultimately exploded with the New Year’s Eve-like trimmings of lighting director Luke Stratton’s disco ball confetti. The funky sounds of Winderman’s Hohner Clavinet portended the funk that was soon to come from “Grow” before Compa found time and space to let his PRS guitar lead the way in “Present Ghosts” (Fun fact: Compa noted that the band had not rehearsed the song before pulling it out on Friday night). “Trapper Keeper” put an exclamation point on night one, defying musical classification and reminding us all that there are no genres, just artists.
Tune in again tonight, Saturday, March 20th, at 8:00 p.m. ET as Dopapod’s We’re Gonna Get Through This run continues live from the Ardmore Music Hall via L4LM, Dopapod, Ardmore Music Hall, and Nugs.net Facebook pages, as well as on YouTube.
Below, check out a gallery of photos from the Friday night performance courtesy of photographer Dani Brandwein and revisit a full, pro-shot video of the show.
Dopapod – Ardmore Music Hall – 3/19/21 – Full Show [Pro-Shot]
Setlist: Dopapod | Ardmore Music Hall | Ardmore, PA | 3/19/21
Set One (8:02 – 9:06): Bats in the Cave, Like a Ball, Turn By Turn -> Freight Train, Nuggy Jawson
Set Two (9:39 – 11:02): Indian Grits* -> Mucho* -> Bubble Brain, Grow^ > Present Ghosts, Trapper Keeper
^Broken Dixie tease