All words and photos: Ryan Kelly
Rob Gordon: I will now sell five copies of “The Three EPs” by The Beta Band.
Dick: Go for it.
[Rob plays the record. Heads around the store nod to the beat]
Customer: Who is this?
Rob Gordon: The Beta Band.
Customer: It’s good.
Rob Gordon: I know.
If there were still such things as “record stores,” a similar scenario would no doubt play out with The Dø’s sophomore album, “Both Ways Open Jaws.” Although the customer probably wouldn’t ask who it is…they’d just Shazam it and pretend they knew all along.
While The Dø (pronounced dough) is well-known in their home country of France—consistently selling-out shows in Paris and having their last album top the French charts in its opening week—they are still relatively obscure here in the states. Many of the 100 or so show-goers the U Street Music Hall Monday were using foreign passports to verify their age at the front door, and most of the locals in attendance had only recently discovered The Dø—crediting a High Fidelity-esque spin on the July 3rd episode of NPR’s All Songs Considered.
Unlike The Beta Band, however, The Dø seems destined for bigger stages and an increasing level of success. Led by the attractive and marketable—yet delightfully quirky and very European—duo of Olivia Merilahti and Dan Levy, The Dø dishes out accessible, at times danceable, music that somehow manages to evoke both Björk and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O without feeling forced, trite or derivative.
The band played re-orchestrated versions of most essential songs off last year’s ”Both Ways Open Jaws,” with solid renditions of Gonna Be Sick, Too Insistent, The Wicked & The Blind, closing the regulation period with a predictably energetic Slippery Slope, and playing The Calendar as their final encore song.
Their first encore song was Travel Light, off their 2008 album, “A Mouthful.” Ironically, Levy introduced it by noting how, on tour, they have to “travel light.” When you come upon The Dø’s stage, you see they brought everything and the kitchen sink on tour with them. Most of the band play several instruments over the course of the performance—at one point there are two saxophones being played, there are also a full set of wrenches, silver platters, an electronic drum pad, a tape recorder, countless keyboards and a light-up megaphone. The only thing they didn’t bring on tour was their traditionally in-tow drummer. Apparently they just didn’t have room left in the van.
I’m guessing next time they roll through The District, The Dø will be playing a bigger stage and might be able to find some room in the back for that drum set.
- Dø to dø: Essential listening: