Papadosio celebrated the 10 year anniversary of their monumental 20-track album, To End the Illusion of Separation (commonly referred to as TETIOS), by performing the album from start to finish at the Masonic Cleveland Auditorium over Thanksgiving weekend.
Having originally scheduled the 10 year celebration for Resonance Music & Arts Festival this past fall, Papadosio was forced to pivot the anniversary plans when the festival was rescheduled until the summer of 2023. In just a few short months, the shows found a new home in the state that originally birthed Papadosio - Ohio. Bringing the event back to their home state was a decision welcomed by many fans in the area, a reminder of the long tradition of spending Thanksgiving weekend with the band as they would make stops in both Cleveland and Cincinnati over the holiday weekend for several years in a row.
Opening up for the crowd on Friday night were Cleveland locals Vibe & Direct and longtime friends of Papadosio, Aqueous, who both occupied the excited crowd as the floor slowly filled with concertgoers. Before long, the pit was full and the balconies were littered with fans smiling, dancing, laughing, and sharing reunion hugs with out-of-town friends.
As Papadosio finally took the stage, a roar of applause echoed through the auditorium as the opening notes of Direction Song rang out. The guessing game of what songs you’ll hear next or whether they’ll play your favorite track was not happening at these shows, but instead was replaced with a palpable anticipation of the setlist that the audience had already grown to know and love over the past ten years. “We worked really hard on this setlist… ten years ago,” joked guitarist Anthony Thogmartin early into Friday night’s show. The only question that remained was how they would divide the twenty songs between two nights.
Papadosio is known to stretch out their studio recordings when their songs are performed live, making this unusually lengthy album impossible to fit into one single night. They had six hours of stage time to perform nearly two hours of music. There was sure to be plenty of XL jams. The band performed the first disc of TETIOS on Friday night, breaking it into two sets.
The first set featured a noteworthy We are Water, which brought the crowd into deep and intense waters several times throughout the extended improvised sections. The Sum, one of Papadosio’s most emotional and moving songs, took the audience on a ride through a spectrum of emotions before culminating in a smooth and danceable finale.
They continued along the album's tracklist with Ear 2 Ear followed by an exploratory and psychedelic version of The Bionic Man Meets His Past to conclude the first set.
A major highlight of the second set was an incredibly dark, menacing, and intense version of Method of Control, complete with projections of pyramids, seeing eyes, and other icons that were complimented by the Masonic energy inside the venue. "I feel like the CIA just put us all under a mind control experiment", one fan said when it finally ended after what seemed like a lifetime.
Unsure of what kind of encore might be in store for them, the audience cheered intensely for the band to take the stage again late Friday evening, even though they had ended with the final song of Disc 1 of TETIOS. It didn’t seem likely that they would start the second half of the album as an encore. Instead, Papadosio took a page from their set at Secret Dreams Music and Arts Festival where they performed a Papadosio Arcade Set. Channeling their inner retro gamers, they treated the crowd to a surprise cover of the Mortal Kombat Theme Song, featuring Aqueous’ guitarist Mike Gantzer, before calling it a night.
In case the highly anticipated event wasn’t enough for their fans, the band had another treat in store for the anniversary of their album. For the first time ever, TETIOS was pressed on vinyl, requiring 4 total discs to fit the entire album. When the original CD was released in 2012, it included an art booklet in which Papadosio’s close artistic fiends contributed works of visual art to accompany each of the twenty songs on the album. This artwork was reimagined and packaged into a beautiful box set to accompany the music. Throughout the weekend, each song’s corresponding artwork could often be seen projected on the walls of the Masonic Auditorium and within the visuals of the LED boards on stage.
To pay homage to the original art booklet and the artists who created it, and as a reflection of the impression TETIOS left on its listeners, a group of Papadosio fans collected submissions to make a fan-made TETIOS art book, much in the same way the band did when they released the album ten years earlier. Submissions included written pieces, poetry, graphic art, and paintings. These books were available for sale at the shows and sold out quickly. There will be more books ordered and they can be purchased here.
Saturday night began with a set from Barefuzz followed by a chill dance party with Daily Bread that warmed up the crowd.
With the majority of the attendees having been at the previous night’s concert, everyone arrived already knowing the layout of the venue and what they were getting themselves into. Papadosio walked on stage and spared no time getting comfortable and picking up right where they left off.
Saturday night started off with “…and this is what he thought”, a calm, slow-building instrumental song that eventually catapulted the audience right into an electrifying version of Cue. The guitar in the beginning was a cheerful and beautiful chord progression with the warmth of a sunny beachfront afternoon. By the time the song had fully kicked in, we were hearing Papadosio in their most pure and authentic form.
Thogmartin addressed the crowd again in another heartfelt speech. “Before this album, we were just sort of playing party music. People would go out to see the party band so they could dance.” It wasn’t until TETIOS when the band decided to create music that had a larger purpose and message. He thanked everyone for still coming out to see them perform, ten years later.
As the night continued, they eventually made their way to Papadosio’s most popular song - Find Your Cloud. The venue erupted into a group singalong as everyone belted out the lyrics, showing just how meaningful the song is to so many people. After the song eventually reached its big break, a wave of hands in the air and eyes-closed dancing swept across the floor.
When they finally played the last song of the album, Planting the Seeds of Life, traditionally an acoustic song that got an electric treatment during this show, nobody was quite sure what they could possibly have in store for them as an encore.
To everyone’s delight and surprise, they returned to the stage and Sam Brouse addressed the crowd.
“This has been a really special experience playing this album all the way through for you all,” Brouse said. “In the process of putting together the vinyl, we remembered that we had recorded a song that didn’t make it on the album and it was just sitting on a hard drive. We were able to recover it and put it on the vinyl and we’d like to play it for you as the last song and the last addition to TETIOS, officially.”
This song is called “The Domes”, and its lyrics match the tone, message, and overall vibe of TETIOS in a way that is undeniable. “Wouldn’t it be nice if humans were here to stay?” was the lyric that stood out as the powerful. The song was included as a bonus track on the vinyl. It is on the final side of the final disc, placed before another special treat - a live version of Find Your Cloud from Wakarusa 2014. This song and show are widely praised as some of Papadosio's best performances.
Set One: Direction Song XL, We Are Water XL, The Sum > Ear to Ear, The Bionic Man Meets His Past… XL
Set Two: Method of Control XL > Method Jam > Madre de Dios XL, Puddles for Oceans XL, Monochrome XL
Encore: Mortal Kombat (Theme Song)
Set One: …and This is What He Thought. > Cue XL > Now That You Know XL, Right Now > Stick Figure XL
Set Two: Oracle Theme XL > Find Your Cloud XL, TV Song, Garden XL > Planting the Seeds of Life
Encore: The Domes