Greetings, Earthlings: New Dopapod Side Project Debuts at RAQ’s Post-Phish Party in Philly
The “Ah Hah” Moment. You know, that instant when you hear or see something for the first time and find your internal voice screaming, “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!”. We’ve all had it. Some of us are fortunate enough to have felt that ecstatic, pulsating, unadulterated passion running through our veins more than once. In the world of live music, I’ve been blessed to have had this moment numerous times. One of my earliest experiences with this passion happened at my very first Phish show. My most recent took place, perhaps fittingly, after the second night of a stellar two-night Phish run at Philly’s Mann Center. On this night, within the dark, dank cement cavern known as the Electric Factory, my ears, eyes, and heart met Earthlings for the very first time. And, as admitting it is the first step to recovery, I must confess: My name is Ali, and I am an Earthlings addict.
In some respects, the instantaneous infatuation comes to me as no surprise. The lineup itself had me sold from the moment the group announced its debut. Earthlings is the newest side project to emerge from Dopapod, and the brainchild of the band’s keyboardist Eli Winderman. At Winderman’s side is Dopapod guitarist Rob Compa, along with Lotus drummer Mike Greenfield and Nth Power bassist Nate Edgar. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing these three groups perform, you know that they each bring their own flavor of funky grooves to the musical dinner table. The tools in their combined arsenal were many, and I looked forward to seeing how the new collaboration would put them to use.
The sound waves struck like the floods of a typhoon. The group has self-described its sound as “electro-swing,” and the distinct swing element had the crowd dancing from start to finish. A number of the songs played had a Beethoven-like quality – electro-fugue, if you will. Other selections, particularly those which featured guest violinist Mark Woodyatt of Rogue Chimp, felt like an old time frontier saloon swing dance, with that intergalactic flair Winderman has perfected so well. The beat remained funky and high energy throughout the set, with some serious bass-slapping by Edgar and Greenfield’s characteristic near-robotic drumming. The band also threw in a great rendition of Radiohead’s “I Might Be Wrong,” further contributing to the set’s dark edge. Compa’s passion for the iconic group to which they were paying tribute radiated from him like the rays of the summer sun as he hit the notes in perfect time and with just the right emphasis. The jury is out – the blending of sounds had resulted in a gourmet musical offering that the smaller, but nonetheless lively, crowd gobbled up with gusto that night at the Electric Factory.
RAQ also met the crowd with success, laying down a solid set of lively rock-n-roll. I expected no less. They brought their usual repertoire of tight, funky jams sprinkled with occasionally comedic lyrics. The highlight of the set came when the band changed the pace a bit and brought Compa onstage, who had quite a nasty dual guitar solo with RAQ guitarist Chris Michetti while keyboardist Todd Stoops slapped his keys something fierce. There was little about which one could complain. Little perhaps, except the fact that Earthlings couldn’t play longer. As I said, I enjoyed RAQ’s performance. But when people in the crowd began begging for “one more” as Earthlings left the stage, I couldn’t help but agree.
Keep track of both bands on their respective facebook pages, RAQ and Earthlings. As the group has said since reunited and returning to the music scene last March, RAQ is BAQ, and hopefully Earthlings are here to stay as well.