A Room Full of Rhythm

September 13th, 2011

The Dodos – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 12, 2011

It was a fully collaborative affair on Monday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Technically it was the Luyas opening for the Dodos, but the reality was seven musicians floating freely between the two groups like students auditing a class. Luyas’s music felt like instrumental post-rock that just happened to have vocals laid on top of it. With layered keyboards and guitars and plenty of affectations like a French horn played through digital effects and what appeared to be an electric sitar, no less, there was the danger of going too esoteric. But, surprisingly, it was the drummer, Stefan Schneider, whose presence was felt the strongest, with complicated, energized rhythms he both anchored and powered the set.

Rhythm took center stage for the Dodos as well—quite literally as the drum kit (uniquely sans bass drum) was moved front and center. There was a meticulous sound check between sets that brought attention to the fact that every single drum and cymbal had its own microphone. Once the music started, you could tell why they went for such precision as Logan Kroeber picked up where Schneider had left off, wheeling through percussive runs that matched complexity with boogie. Forgoing a more multi-instrumentalist bent, Meric Long stuck exclusively to the guitars, oftentimes treating them like another drum with rapid, rhythmic strumming and then adding some boomerang fingering.

Each tune was like a piece of origami, with precise folds revealing a seemingly delicate, predetermined composition. But with subtle samples and looping from Long and building intensity from Kroeber, nearly every song had an explosive moment. After telling the crowd they were just going to play what the audience wanted, the Dodos went right into a crowd-pleasing stretch of songs including “Don’t Stop” and “Black Night” off their newest album, No Color. It was as if what the crowd wanted was implied and they reacted as if the assumption was correct, singing along with smiles. A highlight was “God?” with the lyric “This place will explode” correctly predicting the song’s effect on the crowd, which followed several high-octane passages with spontaneous rhythmic handclaps as if on cue. There was enough rhythm there for everyone. —A. Stein