The Dodos should have gone the way of the dodo bird by now. After the untimely 2012 passing of their 26-year-old touring guitarist Christopher Reimer — who had quickly influenced frontman Meric Long’s songwriting and guitar playing, and catalyzed a major shift in sound in just a year or so — the band was on the brink of folding. Having already changed up their game so many times by that point, exhaustion seemed inevitable during the months surrounding their fifth album, Carrier. But they remain alive, and today, the core dodo-duo of Long and drummer Logan Kroeber are back to doing it all by themselves once again.
Let’s just pause for a second and appreciate that.
The Dodos as a live entity are the best they’ve ever been, even sans supporting performers. Even if they haven’t quite matched the overall scope and thrust of their 2008 sophomore album, Visiter, with any one studio effort since, this is as tenacious, realized, and unstoppable a band in general as they’ve ever been, too. They are worth celebrating every time they take a stage.
The Dodos have kept a static setlist throughout the Individ tour, which they brought to Lincoln Hall on Friday night. It includes the great opening one-two of Visiter (“Walking” into “Red and Purple”), five cuts from the new album (“Goodbyes and Endings”, “Competition”, “The Tide”, “Retriever”, and “Precipitation”), and Carrier’s “Confidence”, which is still this good. It’s hard to even remember this band used to rely on additional touring members. Today, Long keeps a rack of five different guitars on deck on top of countless pedals. No sweat — in fact, he wore a comfortable-looking sweater. Kroeber played through a technician fiddling with his kit for the first two or three songs. No sweat — he looked at ease the whole set, especially after being served a shot of Chicago’s signature liquor Malort in a funny interlude.
For the encore, the band tacked on two audience requests, plus No Color’s “Don’t Try and Hide It” with help from Greta Morgan, frontwoman of tour openers Springtime Carnivore. One of those requests was the dizzying “Jodi”, off of Visiter. “It might not be good,” Long warned in an uncharacteristically disingenuous moment before effortlessly laying out probably the trickiest guitar parts of the night in a song they probably didn’t even practice ahead of time.
Goodbyes and Endings
Red and Purple
Don’t Try and Hide It (with Greta Morgan)