Written and content credit to: Jason Watson
On the evening of November 5th, 2018, SCREAMS Media was given the chance to cover its first Ottawa event. The Dodos and Palehound made their way to the heart of Ottawa's Byward Market accompanied by their blend of up-beat rock songs and melodious acoustic tunes.
With the doors opening at 8 p.m. the attendees slowly filed into the dark, spacious venue. The room was dimly lit with purple lights overlooking the stage, the bar's neon signs and lone pinball machine along the left wall. The crowd grew until the first duo hit the stage; crowding the bar and taking full advantage of the seats lining the right side of the room.
Closing in on 9 p.m. a pair of enthusiastic women made their way onto the slightly elevated stage, signalling to the sound tech as they prepped their respective instruments. Palehound, consisting of Ellen Kempner (vocals/guitar) and Larz Brogan (bass), introduced themselves alongside a charming anecdote detailing their trip to Ottawa. Making note of the absent drummer, Jesse Weiss, promising a return in the future with a full band performance.
They begin their set almost as softly as the blue light that illuminated them. Gentle strumming of the guitar accentuated by the low sounding plucking of the bass strings, topped off by almost a whispering tone from Ellen. A soothing combination that fit perfectly with the relaxed vibe among the concert goers. Following the first few songs, the crowd progressed towards the stage, leaving the comfort of their seats to truly enjoy the performance.
As each song came to a close, they were met with a chorus of applause that grew more consistent as they jammed through their set. A setlist made up mostly of mellow vocals, had its fair share of gritty, distorted instrumentals that brought a certain edge and created a vibration that everyone in that room felt deep in their bones.
As melancholy as the lyrics were at first, this band brings a lightheartedness to the stage that is magnified by the chemistry they share. Separating songs with jokes about being called tourists before the show, they even convinced The Dodos to get stick-and-poke tattoos from a friend of theirs in Toronto the following night. Watching this band on stage you will see their love for what they do, the passion they have for it, and a sense of humility for the opportunities they have.
The transition between bands was quick, as most of the gear was already positioned on the stage. A couple of stagehands rearranged their set-up but most of the time was spent listening along to the playlist blasting through the speakers. The people in attendance used this time to talk among themselves, refill drinks or get some fresh air. Shortly after 9:30, the headlining band made their way to the stage.
The Dodos, a two-piece indie band made up of guitarist/vocalist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber made their long-awaited return after several years away from Ottawa. Much like the array of coloured lights behind them, they brought a variety of styles with each song they played.
The set begin with the song "Forum", as The Dodos prepped the crowd for what was ahead and the audience happily bobbed along to the tempo. Armed with an arsenal of new songs off their newly released "Certainty Waves" album, even Meric and Logan found themselves struggling to contain their excitement at times. "Coughing" was up next, sounding much groovier with steady strumming and a soft blend of hi-hat and snare hits for an extra pop.
The crowd, full attention towards the stage, showered the band with applause and a few whistles between the songs. The Dodos even performed an older tune by the name of "Confidence," for hardcore fans. Meric's smooth singing contrasts nicely with the rough distortion in his guitar and the deep echo radiating from the tom hits.
"Acoustic guitars rule!" One excited bystander shouted as Meric swapped out his electric guitar for an acoustic. Quickly agreeing with the statement as he took a moment to tune and connect with the audience.
Transitioning into a lighter tune, the hollow sound of his acoustic was drowned out by the drums for most of the next song. This didn't last long though because the next couple songs featured the acoustic prominently. The duo showcases a number of very different but equally catchy and memorable songs from slow jams like "Center Of" to "Ono Fashion" which was a high-octane rock song from start to beginning.
Going into this show, I was unfamiliar with both bands and after witnessing firsthand the showmanship they possess I would be more than happy to watch them in the future. View more images of The Dodo's here & a mini album perfect for sharing to your social media accounts.