It’s very rare these days that I get inspired to bust out a review of a concert, but after seeing Dope last night, I couldn’t wait to pump this review out. I’ve been a fan of Dope ever since their first album, “Felons and Revolutionaries” came out in 1999. I was first turned on to them because when that album came out, I was working at a music store. We got a promo copy of the album and every night after we closed, I would blare that album and annoy and scare the preppy kids that I worked with. In fact, I remember when “Life” came out in 2001 and I’d blare that album in the store as well and one of the preppy kids would tell me to stop singing “die mother, die mother fucker, die” to him. I guess you have to be a special kind of person to appreciate such lyrics!
Dope released their 3rd album “Group Therapy” in 2003, their 4th album “American Apathy” in 2005, and finally their 5th album, “No Regrets” in 2009. I bought every album when it came out and went to all their shows. In my opinion, all five of their albums rock from start to finish and I never found myself skipping a song or two as you do with most albums these days. I love their crunchy and dirty industrial sound and they have always put on a great live show. I have never been disappointed by any of their shows that I have seen.
I had to go back to my picture archives to try to remember when the last time was that I saw Dope live. It was in fact, back in July of 2008 when they did two shows back to back in Virginia with Kittie at the same venue I saw them at last night. Only back then, the venue was called Jaxx and it’s now been renamed to Empire. I can’t believe that I’ve gone almost five years without seeing them live and I was beyond excited about the show last night.
I met up with my best friend Bob at a little after eight and we hauled ass an hour down the road to get there with a half an hour to spare before Dope would come on. There were not many people there; a small crowd always makes for a more fun show in my opinion. Dope were supposed to go on at 10:05 but didn’t hit the stage until 10:40. What was funny was that we saw all the band members upstairs hanging out and everyone was looking up at them, wondering what the fuck they were waiting for. At one point, Edsel realized everyone was looking up at him and he ducked down to try to hide.
They finally hit the stage and I was surprised to see that they still had almost the same line up as last time I saw them. The band members are: Edsel Dope (lead singer/guitar), Virus (lead guitar), Tripp “Lee” Tribbett (bass guitar), and Anglel Bartolotta (drums). What was funny about the show last night is that they did the same exact set that they did when I saw them back in 2008! They played the usual suspects that included: “No Way Out,” “Addiction,” “Bitch,” “You Spin Me Round,” “Rebel Yell,” “Now or Never,” and “Die, Boom, Die, Burn, Fuck,” which is a medley of five of their songs ran together as one. Their set list was about 45 minutes long, but they were on the stage for over an hour!
At first I was getting annoyed with them because they spent more time talking, joking around, and goofing off than they did playing music. However, they did play their entire set list and they rocked each and every song and put on a great performance. Edsel made the comment that they hadn’t played together in a quite a while and haven’t rehearsed but you could have fooled me because they sounded great! Edsel also said that they have a new album almost ready to go but they had no idea when it was going to come out. I’m not so sure I believe him though because they didn’t play one new song last night. He did say that when they come back out on tour, they were going to have a new set list with some new songs. He apologized for not being able to play a lot of their songs because the band members don’t know how to play them!
At times during their set, I forgot that I was at a concert and was feeling like I was at an open-mic night for a comedy show. They were having fun in between songs and I have to say I did laugh a few times. The name of the club is Empire and there was a big back drop behind the stage that looked like a band back drop so Edsel said they were changing their band name to “Empire.” There were three separate moments in the show that I had 3 separate reactions to: funny, shocked, and pity.
The funny part was when Edsel was talking to a girl in the front who told him that she was there with her boyfriend AND her ex-boyfriend. Towards the end of the show, Edsel asked her why she broke up with her ex-boyfriend and the answer that came out was because he was black and an entire funny conversation came out about her ex-boyfriend and whether he was actually black or just dark skinned. Edsel said the guy wasn’t black, and when they went into the second to last song, at times during the song, he’d say “and this guy is black” and point to the ex-boyfriend. It was really funny and so out of place for a concert. I have some of it on video for proof!
The part that shocked me was the weed smoking. I’m not surprised about the weed smoking in general but I’m surprised at what they got away with. All throughout the show, Edsel kept asking the audience who had weed and why they hadn’t shared it with him. He kept saying he was disappointed because no one had any weed there. Finally, at one point about mid-way through their set, I started to smell weed. During the song, Edsel disappeared off stage and when he came back out on stage, he was blowing smoke, so I’m assuming someone finally gave him some weed. Finally, I believe it was the same girl who was there with her boyfriend and her ex-boyfriend, handed him a pack of cigarettes. He told her he didn’t want cigarettes, he wanted weed and he was told to open the box. He pulled out a joint and asked for fire. This is the part that shocked me. They actually lit the joint on stage and Edsel and Tripp were sharing the joint for a few minutes. Empire is not a big club so it didn’t take long before it was filled with the aroma of weed. I guess people who smoke it was enjoying it, but coming from someone who stays away from that shit, it was kind of annoying. I was surprised that they were smoking right there on stage, when it’s not even legal and I wondered how long they’d be allowed to get away with it. After a few minutes, someone from the club came over the PA system and told them to put it out NOW! They did as they were told but Edsel said, “Oh…but it’s not real! It’s stage-weed. It’s just a prop!”
The part that made me feel pity for Edsel was when he hurt his ribs. After messing with the guy who said he was black, he went into the song and as I said earlier, he was saying “this guy is black.” At one point, he was laying on the stage during the song, laughing his ass off, and Tripp jumped on top of him, while he was laughing. Edsel was clearly in pain and it took him a while to stand up. He ended up singing the last song with his hand on his ribs and kind of bent over in pain. He still sounded great though! He commented that he’s been hurt on stage before but this was the worst pain he’s ever experienced during a show. He also commented that it must have been his karma for messing with the “black guy who isn’t black.” I hope he wasn’t hurt too bad but I’m sure he’ll drink and smoke the pain away if he was.
Overall, I have to say, it was a great show. I was annoyed at first by all the talking they were doing, but it occurred to me that they were just having a good time. Edsel even said that he’s been doing this for a long time and he’s earned the right to suck. Only, they didn’t suck!! I found myself standing there, with the thoughts that have been crashing in my head over the past year or so. Everyone is so quick to get married, have kids, and make a shit ton of money and they end up forgetting to live life. They forget to have fun and enjoy every single minute of every single day. Edsel and his band are clearly not making that much money doing what they love, but it’s not about the money….it’s about the music and the fun that comes along with it, and they clearly understand that and show it from the second they hit the stage to the time they leave. They are not doing very many shows but if they are hitting your area, GO CHECK THEM OUT!! It will be the best $15.00 you’ve ever spent, I promise! The rest of their shows are:
2/22/13: The Studio at Webster Hall in New York, NY
2/23/13: Crocodile Rock Café in Allentown, PA
3/01/13: The Fillmore Theatre in Wausau, WI
3/01/13: The Back Bar in Janesville, WI
3/03/13: Centerstage Bar and Grill in Kokomo, Indiana
A couple of my videos:
Dope (This is the one of Edsel talking to the non-black ex boyfriend)
Dope (This is one where Edsel is talking about what to do if caught smoking weed)
Dope (This is Edsel and his hurt ribs)
Dope (Die mother fucker, die mother fucker, die)