Dogstar Bring Their Power Lines And Palm Trees To Kentish Town

It’s not every day you see a Hollywood A-lister casually throwing out ridiculous bass lines on a North London stage, but that’s exactly what happened when LA-hailing rock outfit Dogstar descended upon the Kentish Town Forum. And I’m sure Keanu Reeves’ celebrity is as much a blessing as a curse for the alt. rockers, but tuning music fans into fantastic new music any which way in this era of social media and streaming can only be a good thing.

Dogstar @ Kentish Town Forum

Keanu Reeves of Dogstar @ Kentish Town Forum (Kalpesh Patel)
Keanu Reeves of Dogstar @ Kentish Town Forum (Kalpesh Patel)

Formed in 1991 following a chance encounter between the like-minded musical heads of drummer Robert Mailhouse and bassist Keanu Reeves at a time Reeves’ acting star was fast rising, the duo were joined by lead guitarist and singer Gregg Miller the following year. Miller subsequently left the group in 1995 with lead vocals and guitars being taken over by Bret Domrose. But, of course, due to the alternate career Reeves was pursuing, the records and tours were few and far between, the trio all but disbanding in 2002 but reforming twenty years later. And so tonight, we’re lucky to be treated to a rare outing by the trio, who put out their third studio album – Somewhere Between the Power Lines and Palm Trees – just last October.

Breezy Blonde from the new LP kicks things off, Domrose’s gorgeously slightly off-key singing style with falsetto highs have the crowd bouncing along nicely from the off. There is, predictably, a focus on the mic-less bass player who bounces around with abandon. Jangly guitars lead straight into Lust, Mailhouse and Reeves keeping the rhythm steady, the ‘90’s alt. Rock vibe shining gloriously through these 2020s-penned tunes. How The Story Ends delivers yet more from their 2023 Power Lines & Palm Trees LP.

“Well London, we made a new record after all these years” Domrose beams. Who would ever have thought? Certainly not us!” he continues, to cheers from the North London audience before the first single from the new LP Everything Turns Around is introduced, the slow-drive tune with its soaring chorus flowing gently over the Kentish Town Forum crowd.

Dogstar @ Kentish Town Forum

Bret Domrose of Dogstar @ Kentish Town Forum (Kalpesh Patel)
Bret Domrose of Dogstar @ Kentish Town Forum (Kalpesh Patel)

“We’re gonna throw some new songs out at cha, that we’re planning on recording’” Domrose teases before the trio dive into new tune Out Of. The shimmering Glimmer slows things down and allows us to take stock of what we’re experiencing, the frontman’s delicious guitars weaving about, underpinned by the steady rhythm section.

Nod-along new LP cut Dillon Street allows Mailhouse his chance to demonstrate his dual drumming and harmonica playing skills as Domrose’s soulful vocals lift before we’re treated to yet more new music by way of Math, Reeves’ skillful bass-playing on show as Domrose goes full rock star with screaming wah-filled guitars and his best Josh Homme-esque vocals, promising another new LP of bangers on the horizon. Shards Of Rain continues the trio’s delivery of new material, Domrose accenting the tune with lovely guitar harmonics before we dive back into the group’s 2023 LP by way of Overhang.

There’s very little in the way of banter tonight, the group focussed on packing as many tunes into their set, in as short a period as possible, and so we’re straight into Power Lines & Palm Trees cut Sleep, the downbeat tune filled with more of Domrose’s superb guitar as Reeves moves about the stage unencumbered by a mic stand or stage monitors.

New tune Runway gives the first opportunity of the night for Domrose and Reeves to trade stage positions, the bassman’s intricate parts a perfect opportunity for him to show them off to the left of the Forum crowd and then we’re straight into yet another new one – Marmalade – before the main set is closed out with third album cut Breach.

The briefest of stage departures and then they’re back, diving straight into Shallow Easy – yet another unreleased new tune before the storming Upside is unleashed upon the North London crowd. A cover of The Ramones’ 1978 classic I Wanna Be Sedated is thrown in before the night is closed out with yet another new tune by way of Jackbox. And they’re gone, after a storming and pretty much non-stop 70 minutes.

Regardless of the side-gig nature of the group, it’s clear that the trio excel at their craft, and that they only seem to have got better over time and during their 20-year hiatus. Dogstar move on to a handful of shows across Italy, Croatia and Serbia for the rest of this month before spending August and September touring the US.

Live review & photography of Dogstar at Kentish Town Forum, London on 19th June 2024 by Kalpesh Patel

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