Published Mar 04, 2015After a decade of modest tinkering with both with their line-up and instantly recognizable sound, the Dodos appear to have followed a winding path back to the comforts of their beginnings. Their freshly released sixth studio album, Individ, remembers much of the hallowed, melancholic bliss that first touched fans on their breakout hit Visiter, and the familiar sounds of both drew a comforting warmth from those who made the trek on a slushy Tuesday night (March 3) to Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern.
With the stage stripped to its bare essentials — Logan Kroeber's expanded drum kit, a small stack of amplifiers, and Meric Long's unwieldy spread of foot pedals for his enviable guitar collection resting against the far wall — the Dodos wasted little time launching into their frenetic opening number. The subtle jangle of Long's guitar and Kroeber's increasingly adrenaline-fuelled drum hits added a welcome looseness as the duo, still feeling out their place in the room, slipped through more recent cuts from Individ and 2013's Carrier with a hurried efficiency. It wasn't until the plucked opening of early catalogue pillar "The Season" that the ice was official broken, smiles were traded, and the band began to open up with tour stories and other light-hearted banter.
The sheer physicality one can feel in so many of the Dodos' recordings earns an even greater appreciation when seen live. Long's crisscrossing guitar play made for a mesmerizing display as he shifted between vocal mics and bounded in sequence from the back of the stage to the next pedal-triggered guitar effect, all with deceptively effortless dexterity and musicianship. In contrast, Kroeber's sweat-soaked shirt and momentary breathers left little doubt as to just how much work goes into pounding out those ever-shifting, unconventional rhythms without ever losing pace.
The band closed out their main set with the fittingly full-bodied new cut "Precipitation," before returning to the stage to end the night — after a few minutes of endearing indecision about what to play — with "Don't Try To Hide It," accompanied perfectly by show opener Springtime Carnivore (a.k.a. Greta Morgan).
It was, on the whole, a satisfying set, but there was something that left you wanting just a little bit more. Perhaps it was that, with their sound seemingly coming full circle, and their venue sizes remaining relatively unchanged at the 10-year mark, it's still anyone's guess where the Dodos head next. For now, though, one gets the sense that the group have acknowledged their sweet spot, and on this night, it was a pleasure to see that demonstrated.