The Komodos Come to Clark — And Release Their Debut EP

Sophia Lindstrom, Scarlet Staff

Clark University’s Pub Entertainment Committee knocked it out of the park once again at their October 29 Toil and Treble Halloween concert. Just about everything was an improvement from the year before. The club’s e-board dressed as musicians ranging from Harry Styles to David Bowie to Lil Nas X. Learning from last year’s show, PEC supplied water to attendees, which was ideal because the Grind was at its usual boil through the whole night. But those who showed up got to see the real highlight of the show; its headlining act, the young Brooklyn-based rock band Komodos. 

Dressed in dinosaur onesies and brimming with enthusiastic energy, Komodos played an impressive setlist from their upcoming EP, K.O. Highlights of the set were what was likely Clark University’s first-ever mosh pit and their bass player, Ben Baumann. Their only weakness was the sound system, which not only drowned out vocalist Taran Dugal’s voice but disproportionately amplified drummer Kabir Dugal. I could not hear properly for over an hour afterward. 

Despite the technical faults, I enjoyed Komodo’s performance, and when they announced that their EP K.O would be released on November 3rd, I knew I would have to give them a listen. 

Inspired by artists like The Pixies, The Strokes, Cage the Elephant, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard among others, Komodos describe themselves as lovers of “blunt-force garage rock” that sent them careening into the Brooklyn music scene in early 2022. The band consists of vocalist Taran Dugal, bassist Ben Baumann, drummer Kabir Dugal, and both Gabriel Altopp and Hunter Boivin on guitar. K.O is their debut EP, which they call “an opus of adrenaline…loathing and intimacy, transmuted into a raw wash of harmonics and distortion.” 

Coming in at just under 18 minutes, K.O is short but packed with fast guitar solos, thoughtful lyricism, and intense drumming without feeling too overpowering. Each band member has something to contribute to every track, but some songs will highlight certain instruments more than others, allowing the listener to get to know each band member through their music as the songs progress. 

K.O starts with “Shoot the Messenger”, highlighting fantastic guitar solos throughout and introducing Taran Dugal’s distinctive, distorted vocals. The bass line is great as well, supporting the other instrumentals while still shining on their own. The chorus, “take your aim/fire away/shoot the messenger” and “take your aim/fire away/you’ll be better for the worst” plays on traditional sayings in a fun way. A standout lyric is “American fools on the sidewalk…follow the rules with the lights up.” The drums and bass take over at the end of the song, wrapping up an overall strong opener. 

The second song, “Orpheus (Let It Burn)”, was one of two songs released as a single before the EP. It is the longest of the four at over five minutes and arguably the strongest, opening with guitar and drum riffs that remain consistent throughout the song. Its highlight, though, is its lyrics, starting with “I was young and living it up on a spire/a punch in the gut/use it as fuel, get your lyre/and fire it up.” The vocals have a strong echo and sound almost ethereal, which fits the song’s blend of Greek mythology with modern imagery. Kabir Dugal’s drums enhance the track without taking over the vocalist and guitarist, who take a more starring role in the song. The song ends with a minute-long, standout guitar solo. 

“Over/Under” is the third song in the EP, starting with drums followed by guitars, which slowly layer upon each other as the song builds to the first verse. The bass once again shines here. The chorus plays with the words “overrated” and “understated,” fitting the message. “Over/Under” is a shining moment for the instrumentals. A guitar solo begins about three-quarters of the way through the song, and the drums layer back in a bit later. It ends abruptly rather than fading out a bit more smoothly the way the other songs do, but I would argue that it was done in good taste. 

As of 11/3, “Narcisse” is Komodos’ most popular song and was also released as a single before the EP came out. It opens with intense instrumentals, primarily drum and guitar, and features distorted vocals throughout. Fitting the title, the song is about a narcissist who lives in her “spaceship” under the assumption that she is metaphorically above the singer: “You did it again, you went and amended your statement/but your sullied tongue is cutting up the room.” “Narcisse”, and with it K.O, ends with a bang in the form of a dramatic drum solo. 

Komodos describes their EP as an effort to “sublimate the complex and infamous affair that is living in NYC as a young 20-something.” I am not sure if that is exactly what they accomplished—if you told me this was about coming of age anywhere else, I would believe you. But I liked that the songs could apply to young adults in any setting and that there were not any direct references to Brooklyn or New York City in general. It diversifies the audience, and as a band that is trying to combat “whitewashing in the genre,” it was a smart move. 

If underground rock music (literally underground if you saw them in the Grind) is your thing, then you are in for a treat with Komodos. Based on their reception at the Toil and Treble show, I am sure they will be back at Clark sometime soon. 

K.O is out on Spotify now. You can listen to them on Spotify at “Komodos” or follow them on Instagram @KomodosNYC.