Show Review: Dopapod & Spread at The Cubby Bear in Chicago

I spent last Saturday night at the Cubby Bear, located just across the street from Wrigley Field. This notorious Chicago bar was comfortably filled for Dopapod and Spread to play a long night of improvised music. Now this particular show came highly recommended by some of my most respectable friends in the jam scene. Plus it was cheap, so why not?

Spread opened up, warming the Chicago crowd as they began filling up the Cubby Bear. This local Chicago act has a vast approach to their live performances and their music is constantly interchanging, yet thick with improv.

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I couldn’t help notice how much potential exists within this group of young musicians. Bass heavy foundations grounded most of Spread’s jams until guitarist Dave Petrizzo locked into beast mode. You can’t deny this band’s compositions offer limitless potential especially with songs like, “Elbow Slap”. They contain progressions so diverse they’re just asking to be explored.

This was my first Spread show since summer and I was extremely impressed with how much this band has grown over the past few months. Their weekly residency at the Cubby Bear this past fall has undoubtedly resulted in a growth spurt.  And that was just the opening act!

Hailing from the east coast, Dopapod recently embarked on a massive multi-state tour in the middle of some crazy winter weather. Little did they know, snow storms and below zero wind chills never holds back a Chicago crowd.

Even though Dopapod played Summer Camp before, this was the first time I’d seen a full concert. I must admit, experiencing their live show gave me a deeper appreciation for what improvisational music is all about.

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Basically, Dopapod was all over the place, and I mean that in the best possible way. The skill level of this quartet is beyond impressive. In fact, keyboardist Eli Winderman was so flipping good, I often found myself distracted by his talent. He has a fantastic ear for what is happening on stage and the most impressive ability to read Dopapod’s jams.

Guitarist Rob Compa resembles the great Jimmy Page and the late Frank Zappa. Especially when he lowers his head and locks into a jam. You couldn’t even see his face hiding under his shoulder length hair, but the melody of notes coming from his guitar was intoxicating. Bassist Chuck Jones and drummer Neal Evans supplied the heavier elements to Dopapod’s sets. This band tossed up everything from a punk vibe to a funkadelic jam in the matter of seconds. Still, one thing stayed consistent throughout the show: it was heavy.

Dopapod’s songs offer the type of variety that has no limits and there is a freedom to this expansive approach.  Their minimal reliance on lyrics and avant garde approach to improv enabled their jams to grow deep, infiltrating our souls.

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Overall the music produced at the Cubby Bear that night was heavy, yet extremely organic. The beauty of improvised music is how everyone in the room is experiencing a fresh sound.  While Spread will continue to establish residency in Chicago, Dopapod is on their way to Colorado, then they will be heading back to the Midwest. Tour stops include Urbana, Iowa City, Indy, and Cleveland.

You can also get your hands on a few of their studio albums through the magic of Spotify and iTunes. They’re good, I bet you’d dig them.