Dosh, Skoal Kodiak bring the lights down at the Cedar
"Can we get the lights down up here?" asked Marcus Lunkenheimer, Skoal Kodiak's vocalist/circuit bender/bleach bottle-ist, as they took the stage Friday at the Cedar Cultural Center. "No, darker. Dark." Stage lights down, the Christmas tree to the side of the stage flickered off, and with a few quick button punches they set the evening off with a roar like sparking off a bottle rocket. Bassist Brady Lenzen and drummer Freddie Votel (who didn't bother to remove his long winter coat and hat) made the crashing rhythms that are Skoal's foundation look easy, as Lunkenheimer's sequenced noise parts and effects-laden vocals triggered a home-wired, improvised light show made of thrift store lamps and old Christmas lights.
They set up on the open floor directly in front of the stage with chairs to either side, which initially made Skoal's set, and the crowd's response, seem much more sedate than it actually was. Once I squeezed my way to the dark dance floor, however, I was able to fully appreciate the sound and the energy that has earned Skoal Kodiak their rightful reputation for bringing a little bit of the art gallery and a whole lot of basement party to every show they play.
The crowd was a seamless blend of moshing and butt shaking lit only by the occasional glow-stick, completely anonymous except for a passing moment where Lunkenheimer turned his lamp directly on the crowd, as if to say "this is what the show is all about," then picked up his homemade, electronics-wired bleach bottle and closed their set with its signature squealing sound.
After such a high-energy performance, headliner (Martin) Dosh took the stage for a much more sedate but equally accomplished performance. Dosh took the term "multi-instrumentalist" to its furthest borders, his music a combination of drums, keys, sequenced electronics, and saxophone (provided by frequent collaborator Mike Lewis). Unlike Skoal's full-on high energy noise, Dosh's songs began with softer tones and melodies, slowly building and culminating with more volume, more edge, more intensity until all but the quietest parts dropped out.
While excellent, I found myself wondering at one point if there was much room for spontaneity in Dosh's music, but didn't have to wait long: before one song, Dosh, laughing, turned to Lewis, and said, "Uh, I don't think that one's going to work, I just hit the 'delete' button." They recovered immediately and completed the night with renewed energy, culminating with the set-closer, where Dosh invited Skoal Kodiak to join him and Lewis on stage to end the night with a song that brought the unique styles of the two bands together into one powerful mass.
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