Dopapod 2.28.23

Animas City Theatre Durango, CO Words & Photos by Gab Kaplan Two weeks ago, jam band giants Dopapod made a rare trip to Durango, Colorado to end February with some heady Tuesday-night-shredding at the town’s beloved venue, Animas City Theatre. Although the group visits Colorado at least once or twice a year, they had not played that particular stage since 2015. The turnout was great, especially for a weeknight in a small mountain town following a sold-out Spafford show there just three days prior. And how special for Durango to have been graced by not only those two groups but by Lespecial and Punkadelic as well - all within the same week! And somehow, even though I live in Denver, I was able to attend all of them. The show was the third date on their 2023 winter tour following their kickoff performances in Boulder and Fort Collins. It was one out of six Colorado dates on this tour. I was definitely lucky to have been able to catch this intimate performance. My original plan had been to travel from Denver to Durango for just Lespecial/Punkadelic and then zoom on back to the Front Range for Dopapod’s tour opener in Boulder and Space Bacon with Punkadelic in Denver the following day. But it seems that the snow gods did not want me to go back yet and neither did any of my friends in my former mountain town home. A few other bands this touring season have encountered similar delays and missed shows due to inclement weather across the region, especially in the more mountainous terrains. With all of the passes closed when I was supposed to leave, I was stuck in Durango, but that circumstance ended up giving me the opportunity to attend both the Spafford and Dopapod shows in addition to Lespecial and Punkadelic. I’m so grateful to have been snowed-in for just a bit longer with good friends in a familiar place. And it was extra wholesome and exciting to me that some of my friends in attendance had never seen these guys perform and that I got to experience their first time with them. A few of them who were impressed with the show told me, “Now I understand!!”
The eclectic quartet kicked off the night with a mellow jam and as the room began to fill, they moved into “Velcro” off their new 2022 self-titled album. Once the air was warm, they hit us with the second track off their 2019 Emit Time album, “Test of Time” for a strong start to the night. They ended their first set with “Fannie”, another track off their self-titled album, into an epic performance of their song “FABA” off their 2014 album Never Odd or Even. With 2014 being almost a decade ago, “FABA'' is now a classic in the Dopapod repertoire, yet I remember like yesterday when it was brand new. It has always been a heavy hitter, especially that outro! And I love that they played “Fannie” because there is a line in the song that mentions living “next to a factory where radium was made” and Durango is known to have been the location of a mineral smelter that was used to produce a large amount of the uranium (which turns into radium over time) that was used for the Manhattan Project in WWII. And believe it or not, that same site is actually now a dog park. Yikes… or, Woof? Isotopes aside, how can you beat that gorgeous view of the Animas River’s small section of Class III river rapids and the six miles of space for you and your dog to explore off-leash? Both sets were adorned with a good mix of oldies and even some new material. Some of those oldies included “Blast”, “Give it a Name”, and “My Elephant Vs Your Elephant” off their 2012 Redivider album. I was also stoked to see Eli break out his melodica for a second. I have only seen him play it one other time and that was when the group opened their 2021 Denver two-night (socially distanced) run with “Braindead”, a song that begins with a melodica solo. It was the second melodica I had seen on that stage over the course of that week, following Brian Haas of Punkadelic. The group ended the set with “Ebb and Flow” and “Made a Design” off their new self-titled album before closing out the show with a powerful performance of “Plaese Haalp”, the first song off their 2017 album Megagem, followed by an encore consisting of Pink Floyd’s song “Young Lust” and another one of my favorites, “French Bowling”, off their 2012 album Drawn Onward. The group also visited Animas High School while they were in town and performed for (and with!) some of the students there. And by with, I mean the band posted some video clips of the day including one of Eli playing “Wipeout” with one of the students accompanying on drums, as well as a few scenes of the day that were shot by some of AHS’ film students including a cover of Billie Eilish’s song “Bad Guy”. Oh what I would’ve given to be able to jam with Dopapod as a teenager. Lucky kids for sure! It seems the band was happy to have been able to share music with that part of the community and not just the patrons of the big show. I love bands who are wholesome and humble like that. From saying hello and shaking hands with me in a local coffee shop the night before the show to giving the gift of music, life advice, and smiles to the local youth in the community, these guys definitely check off all of the boxes in the Wholesome Band category. In a similar vein, the following week I ended up seeing Magic Beans perform an intimate show in Denver where a large amount of money was raised for The Blue Bench, a Denver-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault as well as providing prevention programs. 
Dopapod has always had a special place in my heart. They were the first jam band I ever saw, and the first time I ever heard them was eleven years ago, during the summer before my first year of college. While listening to some music with my then-summer fling, “The Dark Eternal Night” by Dream Theater came on shuffle. After we listened to the song (which is a progressive metal song that is mostly instrumental, quite long, and intricate), she said to me, “Hey, if you like Dream Theater, you should totally listen to Dopapod!” She then proceeded to hook me onto this band for life by showing me their song “Onionhead”. I finally got to see them a year and a half later in February of 2013 at The Kent Stage in my college town of Kent, OH. This was my 6th time seeing them since 2013 and I’m excited to watch that number keep on growing!
I would also love to give a shoutout to Kat Horton, the band’s current merch manager and production assistant, who gave me my first real taste of the wild world of concert photography back in 2019 when she was visiting Durango while working with Aqueous. After I had done a bit of street team promotion for that show, I asked about a photo pass and was delighted to receive one for the first time ever. It felt serendipitous to end up together again in the same geographically-isolated place four years later and it was cool knowing that each of us have accomplished a whole bunch since then. Speaking of merch, it’s definitely worth mentioning that the record sleeve of their new self-titled album that they were selling is actually a well-thought-out board game consisting of their entire discography as the board, as well as the actual vinyl being a sweet trippy-looking green to match the colorful array of black, greens, blues, and purples of the album art. I was not surprised at all to discover for myself that a group who is as creative detail-oriented as they are with their musical content is just as detailed with their method of delivery. Can you tell that I’ve recently gotten into vinyl (took me long enough…) and am geeking out just a bit? And in regards to the album itself, (which you should definitely give a listen to if you can!) I laughed a bit thinking about the six other albums named in palindromes that it took before they finally named one after the band, which of course, is also a palindrome. Time sure is funny. Catch yourself at a Dopapod show if you can, I’ve never regretted it and neither will you! Gab's Photo Gallery www.dopapod.com
Setlist One: Jam > Velcro, Test of Time, Wheazy, Brookline Bridge, Give it a Name, Fannie > FABA Set Two: Runny, My Elephant Vs Your Elephant, Freight Train, End it on the Yeah, Blast, Ebb and Flow > Made a Design > Please Haalp Encore: Young Lust* > French Bowling *Pink Floyd cover Dopapod covering Billie Eilish: https://youtu.be/zuFIVaAGFDo


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