The Ruby Suns and The Dodos brought a refreshing dose of intelligent indie pop to The Church this week. I have been a fan of New Zealand's Ruby Suns for a while but hadn't had the chance to see them live until now. They have a really unique sound; piecing together sonic collages taken from numerous and varied sources. Recorded it translates beautifully. Live, however, it took a few songs for the group to really hit their stride. I'd like to think the slow to build set was due in part to two large factors: the sound system at The Church isn't super fantastic and they played mostly new material, which means the experimental trio could still be working out the kinks. At the outset the loops and warbles of their drum machine stood out in front of the live instrumentation which threw off the balance of their overall sound. In addition, it seemed at time as though the prerecorded elements were so automated it was rushing them through their setlist.
After a few song though the incredible talent of Ryan McPhun, Amy Robinson and Bevan Smith began to overwhelm the presence of the drum machine and balance was not only achieved it was mastered. Fully embracing the African influence present on their album Sea Lion, as well as, the more tribal vibe of the newer material the live drumming pushed beats into the air you couldn't help but rock out to. They mentioned they drew a lot from the native culture to create their new stuff and once in full jam mode it got rather bombastic. By the end of their 45 minute roll I was more than excited to see where The Dodos would pick things up. I look forward to seeing Ruby Suns again, perhaps when they've had a chance to really refine the new work.
What the Dodos followed up with was nothing short of astounding. I had caught the beginning of their set at Northside this summer, where I got my first taste of the Time To Die tracks and after listening to, and fully enjoying, the full album I was anticipating a typical indie pop show. They started with Time To Die and immediately I knew they had something wholly more intense in store. Everything was pushed a little further, a little louder.
When the moment relied more on the vocals lead Meric delivered on pitch musical flow, and when joined by the others the harmonies were completely delicious.
On the many occasions when guitars and percussion got complex the group blew me away with their intensity. There is really no other way to say it than, THEY ROCKED OUT. The addition of the third member really filled out their sound. Even when they played tracks from Visiter it was much more lush. They also seem to have perfected their stage presence during their extensive touring. They impressed with the nonstop run though songs almost up until the end. The high energy set was thoroughly impressive and really sealed the deal as far as drawing the whole audience into the moment. The Dodo's have really grown into a band that I can now say securely has the potential to achieve greatness.
Tane Muhata - Ruby Suns
Paint The Rust - The Dodos