On Monday night, dada made their long awaited return to the Cleveland area, playing an intimate show at Musica in Akron. I knew that it had been quite a while since the band had been in this neck of the woods for a show, but according to the dada tour archive, the last show was at the Agora Ballroom in September 0f 2003.
So it's really been nearly 10 years? Wow.
I was at that Agora show and sadly, because it was announced only a week and a half or so before it happened, attendance was extremely light. And as a result, what would come to be known as the "Great Cleveland Drought of dada Shows" officially began.
A decade removed from that Cleveland appearance, the dada boys made good use of their time in Akron. Musica was a good setting to see the group, with perfect sound and sightlines and the intimate size of the venue prompted the band to quip that that evening's performance was like seeing a "dada living room show."
That was certainly a good way to term the feeling of seeing dada in that room and even though it was a Monday night with crummy weather (hello, snow!), the fans still found their way to Musica for a good evening of tunes.
I had the chance to interview guitarist/vocalist Michael Gurley for Popdose in the weeks leading up to the gig, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but the evening ended up having some unexpected moments, all of them good. The band is touring right now in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Puzzle album (which was released in 1992).
Honestly, I'm surprised that there wasn't more of the album in the setlist, which was limited to "Posters" and "Dim" on the front side and "Dizz Knee Land" and "Dorina" on the tail end. But it was a nice overall mix of material that covered nearly all of the dada releases, including "Guitar Girl" from 2004's How To Be Found and the title track from the 2006 A Friend of Pat Robertson EP which is their most recent release to date. (That was a personal thrill for me, since I hadn't seen that one live.)
The setlist was really heavy on American Highway Flower material, with "Ask The Dust," "Feet To The Sun," "S.F. Bar '63" (!!!) and "Scum" (!!!) and from El Subliminoso, "Rise" (which Gurley quipped was the best "Rise" of the tour) and an extremely charged up version of "I Get High."
Since those two albums were the first two dada albums that I bought, I was perfectly okay with the heavy feature time that they received in the setlist. There are certainly songs from Puzzle that I would have liked to have heard (especially since I've been listening to the whole catalog a lot since doing the interview) like "Dog" and "Surround," but I really can't argue with the setlist. It was damn solid. (But since we mentioned "Dog," how about this solid live performance from 2011? God bless Youtube.)
The one thing you can always count on as a dada fan is that each and every time that they go out on tour, they'll bring a setlist that changes things up significantly from the last time that you saw them. Michael promised deep cuts and certainly, "Rise," "Scum," and "S.F. Bar '63 fit that bill. Seeing that "Scum" and "S.F. Bar '63" were on the setlist took me immediately back to the first time that I saw dada in 1994 (again at the Agora, the first of what would be four times to date that they have played there). On a nostalgic night, just seeing that those songs would be played instantly transported me back to some of my favorite dada memories in my mind before the band even hit the stage. So as far as setlist satisfaction goes? Mission accomplished.
(Setlist stalkers, they're changing up the tunes from night to night -- the Joliet, Ill. show featured "Spirit of 2009," "Information Undertow," Playboy in Outerspace and "Spinning My Wheels," just to name a few! Enjoy the highlights from that show here.)
In 2013, they still hold the title as one of the most devastating live trios you'll ever see. They were totally locked in from moment one and maintained that connection for the duration of the 90 minutes or so that they were onstage. This current tour is their most extensive tour in a long time, so if they're coming your way -- and hopefully they are -- don't miss this show.
Columbus, OH is tomorrow night and the tour rolls onward from there!
Here's the setlist from Akron:
(And for merch nerds, there's a ton of merch to be had....you'll want to get your mitts on the dada demos collection 16 in 2 if you don't have it already. It's a good part of the reason that I made the trek in the bad weather to catch the show and it didn't disappoint when I got it into the CD player!)
I Get High
Feet To The Sun
S.F. Bar '63
Ask The Dust
Last Train To Clarksville
A Friend of Pat Robertson
Dizz Knee Land