Concert preview: Papadosio brings a healthy sense of skepticism to expanded Earth Night

  • Brian Hockensmith photo
By Columbus Alive
From the December 19, 2013 edition

Growing up in nearby Lancaster, Papadosio’s Anthony Thogmartin always felt a special connection to the earth.

In a recent phone interview, the musician, who currently makes his home in Asheville, North Carolina, said he’d often spend days in relative isolation hiking the boggy wilderness surrounding his childhood home. It was during this time he started to develop the strong ecological conscience that has become intertwined with his band’s music and mission.

“I ran face-first into huge deforestation projects right there,” Thogmartin said. “There was an outerbelt built around Lancaster which cut directly through where I spent most of my time [and now] there’s nothing left there. It’s just road.

“They also did a huge mining operation in another area, and then a fracking operation in another area. I remember some of those places as beautiful … so it was very hard for me to deal with. It really hits close to home for me.”

These events are a large part of the inspiration behind the second annual Earth Night, which is slated to take place at LC Pavilion over the course of two days this weekend. While last year’s inaugural event was smaller in both size and scope (it was confined to a single day and placed an increased focus on the mysticism surrounding the date 12/21/12), Thogmartin and Co. thought bigger this time around.

The music lineup is beefed up, with appearances from The Main Squeeze, Shigeto, Hundred Waters, Ott & The All-Seeing I and, of course, Papadosio. In addition, a daylong symposium scheduled to take place on Saturday, Dec. 21, at Vue, 95 Liberty St. in the Brewery District, includes speakers addressing topics ranging from environmental activism to nutrition.

“What we’ve been doing recently is trying to tally it all up and get a real picture of what it takes to do what we do,” said Thogmartin, who was born to an aircraft mechanic father and a mother who worked in the field of vision rehabilitation. “As a band we’re at an interesting crossroad where we’re starting to be able to pay our bills without accruing a bunch of debt, so now we’re trying to see how we can fit ourselves into the world responsibly.”

The idea of fitting in has been something of a running theme for the musician, who grew up a self-proclaimed loner and still struggles to see where his band fits into the music scene at large. Though often pegged as a jam band, Papadosia incorporates more electronic elements into its sound, coming on like dance music for the granola set. If “Avatar’s” Na’vi ever embraced computer technology, this is the type of music it would make.

Indeed, it wasn’t until the longtime outsider enrolled in classes at Ohio University in Athens that he finally discovered fellow travelers similarly skeptical of the world around them — a concept that surfaces often in the band’s music.

“It was right around then I realized culture as a whole is really skeptical of what’s going on all across the board,” he said. “We’re all skeptical of so many things: how the government is operating, the financial system, large banking cartels.

“We’re all skeptical of the whole thing, and our music reflects that. It’s not the battle cry of some odd, weird [loner]. It’s everybody’s. We’re all in this together.”