Time to Die? More Like Time to Dance: The Dodos Play Bimbo’s 365 in North Beach

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San Francisco’s The Dodos lead singer and guitar player Meric Long plays Bimbo’s 365 for the last show before a European tour.  Photo by Elizabeth Castro/Foghorn
San Francisco’s The Dodos lead singer and guitar player Meric Long plays Bimbo’s 365 for the last show before a European tour. Photo by Elizabeth Castro/Foghorn

The dodo bird may have died out centuries ago, but local San Francisco band The Dodos are alive and well, playing shows to promote their newest album Time to Die. I caught them at Bimbo’s 365 Club for the final show of their U.S. tour before they bring their act to Europe.

On their newest album Meric Long, lead singer/guitar, and Logan Kroeber, drums, mix things up by adding a vibraphone.  Newest member, Keaton Snyder joined the band when Long and Kroeber wanted to add a vibraphone after using it on tour for their last album Visiter. “We used a vibraphone live for some of the songs and as the tour progressed we used it more and more,” Said Kroeber  The band also had Phil Ek (who’s worked with The Shins, Built to Spill, and many others) produce the album which “accentuated the sweetness in the songs…and also brought Meric’s vocals to the forefront more than ever,”  according to Kroeber.  The result: another great album that builds upon 2008’s Visiter while sticking to the roots of their sound.

The evening started with opening band The Ruby Suns from New Zealand.  Both The Ruby Suns andThe Dodos have been likened to popular indie rock band Animal Collective.  Their set was colorful from the vibrant tablecloths and Christmas lights adorning the stage to the brightly colored clothing of each band member.  They had an experimental tropical sound with sweet vocals and loud drums.

Once their set ended, the audience crowded the stage  in hopes of getting closer to as golden oldies played over the speakers.  Seven Motown hits later, the lights finally dimmed and The Dodos took the stage.  The drum beats grew louder and stronger, building anticipation. Drums are a big part of their act,  “[it became] very evident when I started playing with Meric that rhythm was as important as melody in his world and that was easy to jive with.”

Their sound is heavy on drums, yet easy on the ears.  Meric’s voice, echoing with frantic urgency, filled the air.  The show quickly turned into a dance party.  A girl flailed her arms in front of me while shaking her hips all around, three awkward boys with no rhythm danced together and a couple nearby could not resist freak dancing (strange choice of dancing considering The Dodos aren’t exactly tunes to get your freak on).

The band displays musical skill and passion for performance.  Each member brings something different to the table to create an amazing union of sounds.  Meric made frenzied movements about the stage picking furiously at his guitar creating a ferocious twang, while Logan concentrated intently on pounding his drums, working diligently and with enormous power.  Meanwhile, Keaton drew a smooth sound out of the vibraphone that perfectly balanced and complimented the loudness of his bandmates. Each song melted into the next, creating a seamless set.

The Dodos kept graciously thanking the audience, and even played the rarely performed song, “Ashely” off their album Visiter.  Meric muttered, “We don’t usually play this, but I feel like it…”  By the end of the show, the band’s shirts were soaked and their instruments were splattered with sweat.  The Dodos played meticulously and intensely as if it were…Time to Die?

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