Dope Body headlined a show at the Ottobar on Saturday, Feb. 6 that featured a variety of Baltimore-based acts, with openers Wume, Frenemies and Wing.
Dope Body, formed in 2008, have been making loud, abrasive noise-punk over the course of four LPs. The group consists of vocalist Andrew Laumann, bassist John Jones, guitarist Zachary Utz and drummer David Jacober. The scuzzy sounds of the band have garnered them a vocal fan base and a record deal with Drag City (home to harpist Joanna Newsom and garage-rocker Ty Segall).
The band released their latest LP titled Kunk in 2015. The album received positive critical reception and solidified itself as a strong release in Dope Body’s growing discography.
On stage, Dope Body displays a considerable playfulness, while still demanding an overwhelming stage presence.
Laumann began the set on his knees, with an instrumental freak-out by Utz and Jones happening behind him. He rose slowly, facing the crowd as the build-up continued before finally he stood to the cheers of the Ottobar.
It finally ended with a crash and Laumann grabbed the mic stand, swinging it around wildly as he thrashed about the stage. This was the first incident in a night full of mic-stand antics, which concluded with him accidentally breaking it.
For other songs Laumann lay across the stage, shirtless, before rising and shouting the lyrics which either came in a hypnotic drone or a vicious chant. A notable portion of the concert featured him bowing before the drum-kit while thrashing his head righteously. Laumann gave off the aura of a true frontman, whether he was headbanging or moseying across the stage with a style that could only be described as Buffalo Bill-esque.
As for the instrumentals, they played true to the distortion that Dope Body’s studio recordings promised with the same anger and passion coming from each band member. The band played a wide range of songs across their discography, as well as a song they noted they hadn’t played in a few years. Overall, Dope Body’s set managed to channel energy, technical skill and passion, all in one four-piece package.
The show also had a political bent in the comments that came from a member of Wume, an experimental synthpop duo, during a break between songs in their set.
“Our world can’t take another Republican president,” April Camlin, drummer/vocalist for the duo, said.
While the words didn’t exactly set a tone for Wume’s set, they instead reflected a Baltimore music scene that is finding itself more politically active as November 2016 gets closer.
Wume formed in 2010 and have two releases under their belt so far with their latest, Maintain, dropping last May. The synthpop that the band has become known for has drawn many favorable comparisons with other strong electronic acts that have surged throughout the Baltimore music scene over the last decade, and they have become known for a particularly smooth live performance.
In terms of the music itself, Wume played several songs from their sophomore record, Maintain, and the audience swayed swayed gently to the sounds. The combination of Camlin’s drumming and Al Schatz, the band’s other half, on synthesizers caused a varied soundscape. The final product felt reminiscent of a darker, more atmospheric Dan Deacon.
The audience members featured as much variety as the bands that played, with a mixture of older listeners amongst the younger, collegiate crowd.
The show served as one of the final local stops for Wing Dam since they announced an upcoming move to San Diego in January. At the same time, the band will most likely keep their ties with the Baltimore scene with an album release party for their first full-length album in the city this fall.
As the show came to an end, the members proclaimed that one of their albums, Nupping from 2011, would be available for free. One more song followed and the crowd moshed and thrashed to the punk tunes before Ottobar became quiet and Dope Body departed. Once again, one of the more active venues in the Baltimore music scene featured a lights-out concert, with other local acts performing.
The bands featured have multiple things coming up in the near future. Wing Dam is playing at the Ottobar once more on March 19 in what may be their final show before they move to San Diego. Wume has a performance on Feb. 20 in Chicago followed by another on Feb. 26 in New York, thus ending their current (yet short) slate of shows for spring 2016.
As for the Ottobar, 2016 continues to be a busy year for shows at the venue with a number of notable acts coming in the near future including the March 1 performance featuring punk rock mainstays Titus Andronicus, Oneohtrix Point Never’s performance on March 15 and the indie rock showcase of Citizen, Turnover, Milk Teeth and Sorority Noise on April 14.
Other concerts of note throughout Baltimore include Diet Cig playing with Kississippi as well as a few other bands at the Metro Gallery on March 7 and all the way in Washington, D.C. Animal Collective is playing a two-day stint at the 9:30 Club May 10-11. That’s without mentioning D.C.’s own homegrown Damaged City Fest April 8-10 which features punk bands from the world over playing three days at various venues in D.C.
The year in live music is looking up for the DMV and, with many bands still keeping mum about release dates for their albums, more tours will be announced as summer grows ever closer.