dodie’s fans are dedicated. And while the same could be said of many die-hards attending a live set of their favourite performer, there’s something different with this one. dodie is more than a performer. Through her two YouTube channels, she’s built up a solid fanbase in the millions, sharing everything from acoustic covers and collaborations with her online peers, to tutorials and open-hearted storytelling. Dodie doesn’t simply share her music with her fans, she shares her life with them, and in turn, they see her less as a music idol and more as an inspirational friend who they can check in with on a daily basis through various social media accounts.
So it’s no wonder that her fans, a complete bunch of misfits in the most perfect and inspiring way, have spent the time learning the songs of the two support acts, Fenne Lily and Skinny Living. And as both take to the stage to warm up the crowd, one could easily mistake the gig for their own, with eager new fans screaming and dancing without the awkward ‘hurry up and get on with it’ sense one usually feels at a sold out performance.
While Fenne stands solo on stage, electric guitar in hand and a handful of anecdotes to share, Skinny Living, a five-piece band who met at an open mic night, switch between uplifting indy pop and strong ballads from their charismatic lead. The crowd cheers, the room is electric and goosebumps form. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” I admit, and when I see her again in London the follow week, the exact same anomaly happens.
But if the crowd is buzzing now, it’s nothing compared to the rush of pure joy as dodie takes to the stage to play her first number – the ukulele-driven ‘Would You Be So Kind?’ from her latest EP ‘You’ that, despite hardly any radio play upon release, reached number 6 in the UK album charts.
The intimate size of the Cambridge Junction leaves you lost in a sea of yellow-dressed teens in dodie-embroidered bobble hats and flower crowns. If you were hoping to sample her vocal ability, this isn’t the place for you as you simply won’t hear her. And if you’ve never heard one of her songs before, again, let me point you toward her EP. dodie’s fans know she can sing. And unlike so many acts who, when seen live, often fail to live up to the expectations promised by overly-edited studio recordings, the majority of what dodie releases is recorded in her room with a video camera and mid-market audio equipment. So as ‘their dodie’ takes to the stage, this isn’t about appreciating the performance but instead, it’s about finding unity through singing along and sharing an evening with someone who means the world to them. As she performs songs of heartbreak and attraction, hands raise above the heads of the crowd, linking fingers with complete strangers to show solidarity. “This is a song about falling in love with a girl for the first time,” she admits. “And how it felt exciting, fun, but also very painful.” And as she begins to sing ‘She’, the audience raises roses and rainbow flags, broadening the smile upon her face.
Mixed in with her classic songs from both the ‘You’ and ‘Intertwinded’ EP’s, along with a few extras from her channel, dodie has two new songs to share. And this is where we can finally hear her sing without the din of the audience. She starts with ‘Monster’ – “Have you ever looked into the eyes of someone who hates you?” – and encourages her audience to join in for the final chorus with a simple set of lyrics. Her second track, ‘If I’m Being Honest’, takes her from centre stage to a keyboard, highlighting her talent across a range of instruments while accompanied perfectly by her band, familiar to anyone who has watched her videos or followed her Instagram account.
“Thank you very much, Cambridge. I think you may have been the loudest one yet.” she beams as she and her band return for an encore. And as she ends the set with ‘In the Middle’, a ‘song about a threesome’, the room erupts with high energy dancing and singing, bright lights and dodie’s enthusiastic beating of a drum to her side. the song ends, the audience scream and dodie and her band unite on stage for a rendition of Sweet Caroline before leaving.
For the experience alone, seeing dodie live is highly recommended. But preparation is key and without knowledge of her back catalogue, it would be easy to be overwhelmed by the awe of the event. But there truly is nothing quite like it.
Words from Alex Bate