Monday, February 22, 2010

A Review: Papadosio 2.11.10

My previous 2 trips to the Double Door in Wicker Park have been incredible. The Omega Moos and 56 Hope Road both killed and set the stage for many future engagements at the venue. This time around the band was Papadosio, a recent revelation for myself but a band that's been on the rise in the Midwest for a minute now. They are known for bringing an intense brand of electro jams and threw down the fucking Heat on this Thursday night.

I got to the Double Door with enough time to grab a Goose Island before the opening band, Fifth World hit the stage. This is a local Chicago band with solid roots in jam & funk, but with an annoying penchant for rapping. Their frontman, "Sensei of Soul", really doesn't fit in with the vibe of the music. The keys man (Asif Wilson) and guitar slayer (Greg Firak) are pretty talented musicians and played some stellar instrumental jams. But when the rapping was introduced, the entire feel of the music changed. It was choppy, cacophonous and just generally lackluster. He was really more of a hype man than an MC and I can't figure out why a jam band would need that. I understand that they are trying to blend genres and everything, but it just doesn't work well. I think this band has a lot of potential if they lost the rap and focused on their funky jams. And I think Mr. Sensei would fit in better in a more traditional hip-hop outfit.

Papadosio started setting up immediately and I thought to myself, "Now this is a band." They had 2 computers and a whole galaxy of keys, synthesizers, sequencers, mixers, multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... not to mention the staple instruments, guitars and drums. This combination of traditional instruments & electronic elements is becoming my favorite realm of music. Jamtronica is a heaving musical storm right now and as far as I'm concerned, Papadosio is squarely in the eye of that storm.

Having only discovered this band less than 6 months ago, I wasn't super familiar with their songs. I have been listening to a show of theirs I found on Archive with no song titles and loving every second of it. So even though I wasn't hip to all the titles, I was really excited for the rage they were about to unleash. They hit the stage to a sparse & reticent crowd. There was a bubble about 10 feet out from the stage where everyone was standing. It took all of half a song, however, for that bubble to burst and the front of the stage to be filled in, yours truly in dead center position at the stage. This band shreds way too fucking hard for a crowd to hold back for very long.

A few songs in and I was already starting to get drunk (grad school is absolutely killing my alcohol tolerance). Couple this with the facts that I knew none of the song titles and was mostly spaaaaaaaaced out and lost in the music and the result is a very poor sequential memory of this show. I know they played a song that I really liked in the first half of the show. After the show I learned that the song was called "All I Knew" and it's from their newest album Observations. This song is as close to a jamtronic ballad as I've heard. Thogmartin takes the vocals in this song and lays down an amazing vocal soundscape. As he sings his body flexes & sags, taking on a lithe, Thom Yorke-like posture. This song is actually pretty soft for this band, but it kicks ass nonetheless.

I'm pretty sure that after this song, Thogmartin announced that the next song was called "Improbability Blotter". I am familiar with this title because he says the same thing in that Archive show I have. Shit, if I came up with a phrase as cool sounding as "Improbability Blotter" I'd probably say it all the time too. This song was an absolute shredder and Thogmartin again stood out as he dropped a waterfall of keys throughout the whole song. The bass man, Rob McConnell, inadvertently become the focus of this song as he was wailing on his bass so hard that he snapped a string. Once the song ended, he looked really surprised and said, "I didn't know I had it in me... I guess I really meant it." He seemed to realize that he wasn't going to be able to fix the guitar or play with it in that condition. Acting quickly, the bass player from Fifth World came in clutch and gave up his 6-string bass. McConnell looked intimidated at having to acclimate to a strange guitar in the middle of a show, so he kind of slunk to the back of the stage to get his bearings. By the end of that song, however, he was back at the front of the stage and killing the new bass. A sign of a truly talented musician.

Unlike most shows of this ilk, Papadosio kept the show rocking and skipped a setbreak. The second half of the show continued to showcase Thogmartin and his awesomely noodly guitar chops. He reminds me a lot of Mike Rempel from Lotus, which is always a good thing in my book. But the latter parts of the show also let Billy Brouse, the keys/synths/what-have-you master of the band have his time to stand out. His spectrum of sound differs wildly from song to song and keeps me jumping with some wild & wonderful noises. But while his electro-mastery is obvious, his vocal skills gave me a chuckle. He looked so incredibly apprehensive & nervous when he jumped in on some background vocals. It sounded just fine, but his body language & facial expression made it seem like he was scared shitless. It was about this time that I also realized that the drums were also extremely on-point and indeed had been all night. The drummer, Mike Healy, is a ripper and is every bit as talented as the rest of the band. Each of these guys seem to be extremely sharp musicians, yet this band is so much more than just the sum of its parts. It's a jamtronica assault of the highest order.

The show wrapped up with my favorite song of theirs but, once again, I didn't know the title. It is the last song on the recording I have and they saved it for last once again. I learned that the song is called "Polygons" and it is from the album Magreenery, though at the show I yelled, "Yessssss, it's that killer song!" This song is perfectly suited for a set-ender and is completely insane. I stood with my mouth agape & eyes closed to soak up the music for about the first 10 seconds before I couldn't help but shred the dancefloor like an animal. "Polygons" is like a sonic hatchet, zipping through the air looking for any and all scalps to peel back... and I was definitely in the line of fire. I got totally lost in the song and when it finally ended I was left standing there, with my wig pushed back and desperate for more music. Luckily they came back for one more really quick song, a real banger, but then left the stage again. However, this time I was expecting the show to be over and I was able to gather the pieces of my face off the floor with an incredible sense of satisfaction & happiness.

Moral of the story: this band is seriously fucking awesome. They might be my favorite band at this very moment and I'm really looking forward to the next time I see them. I just wish it wasn't going to take until Summer Camp for that to happen... I could see these guys every weekend.

-Frazier Chicago Jam Scene


  1. Solid Review! Thanks again, Frazier.


  2. Papadosio is amazing! Saw them for the first time at All Good 2010. Saw em again at The Double Door Inn in Charlotte, NC. Seeing em again Mar 31st in Greensboro. Favorite band, amazing musicians, great sound...they will take OVER the festival scene very soon! Anthony...I want your guitar pick at Greensboro! POP A DOSE YO