The cold February rain didn’t stop dodie fans from arriving early to the Royal Oak Music Theater for the fifth night of her “Build A Problem” Tour. Bundled up in winter coats and umbrellas in hand, a long line of fans wrapped around the timeless theater in eager anticipation for the UK-based singer-songwriter’s performance.
For many (myself included), this show was the first concert since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and dodie surely didn’t disappoint with her warm welcome back to a live performance. Taking the stage with her five band members, dodie kicked off the night with “Air So Sweet” off of her May 2021 album, Build A Problem. “We’re going to delve into feelings,” the 26-year-old singer announced before transitioning into “Cool Girl,” also off of her latest album.
After kicking off the night with newer music, dodie announced that she would be revisiting some of her older songs. Sitting at her rustic piano, she laughed into the microphone, admitting that she was “on the right side of drunk” after taking a shot with her bandmates before the show. Besides a few faulty chords, one could never tell that dodie was feeling a bit tipsy — her vocal delivery was flawless and possessed the pensive, nostalgic energy that had audience members swooning and wiping away tears.
dodie is an extremely talented and versatile performer, and she kept the audience on their toes from start to finish. Between her spontaneous interpretive dancing and clarinet and drum solos, dodie’s performance remained true to the authentic, quirky musicianship that launched her career nearly six years ago. What’s most remarkable about dodie, however, is the way she connects with her fans. When she’s on stage, she’s constantly on the move, dancing alongside her band members and offering witty responses to fans when they’d shout messages of love. At one point an audience member even hurled their bra on stage, to which dodie asked, “Alright whose bra is that?” while suppressing a fitful of laughter.
Just how dear fans hold dodie was most clear when she performed “Rainbow.” Before performing the song off of Build A Problem, dodie asked the crowd, “Who here is gay?” to which the crowd erupted into a clamor of applause and shouts. dodie, who is bisexual and a champion for the LGBTQIA+ community, beamed and explained how “Rainbow” is a song she wrote to overcome the stigmas she has witnessed and experienced as a queer person who grew up in a conservative town that was cold toward the LGBTQIA+ community. With rainbow lights accompanying dodie and her band, there were cheers and tears shed as the Royal Oak Music Theater celebrated love in all of its forms.
Perhaps the most moving part of the night was when dodie performed her 2019 hit “She.” After playing the song on the piano to a chorus of fans singing along, dodie explained how she tries to find new meaning in her older songs when she performs them live. On that cold February night, dodie expressed how “She” has become a metaphor for her past self who felt trapped in her hometown, a reminder of how far she has come since the days when she felt ashamed of her queer identity. The auditorium was still as she described how she’s so happy to see more acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community and how much she wished that her younger self could have had the support she has now.
dodie’s U.S. tour includes opener Lizzy McAlpine, a singer-songwriter from Philadelphia. As the lights dimmed in the theater, fans chanted “Lizzy” until the 22-year-old singer-songwriter took the stage for an acoustic set. Performing songs off of her upcoming album five seconds flat, the packed theater was filled with a chorus of voices reciting every word to McAlpine’s songs. The only thing that could have rivaled McAlpine’s set were her retro jeans, as several shouts of “I like your pants!” were heard from across the auditorium. During her set, McAlpine even commented on how the audience “sounded so good” while singing along to her songs.
For both McAlpine and dodie’s performances, nearly every person around me knew all of the words to their songs and was singing along the entire time. Some fans knew the music so well that they were even harmonizing with the band, creating a mesmerizing sea of voices. This phenomenon alone is a true testament to the energy both dodie and McAlpine brought to Royal Oak, and it was beautiful to witness two powerful songwriters pour love into their art and share that love with their fans.
Daily Arts Writer Kaitlyn Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.