Dogs In A Pile are the definitive pride and joy of the bustling Jersey Shore music scene. A busy 2022, however, saw the hard-working quintet play most of their hundred-plus shows on a national tour. Getting out of your home market and winning fans in twos, fives, and tens is a sure formula for success, but there’s no question that the genre-bending jam band was all too happy to come home to familiar faces and home cooked meals for a festive holiday weekend at Asbury Park’s famed The Stone Pony—and their adoring home crowd was ready to receive them.
Sold out and packed to the gills, many fans turned up early to grab their spots and hit the merch lines where a freshly unveiled Danny Steinman pin debuted to much fanfare. The Dogpound was in full force last night, too, ravenous from the get-go, perhaps a byproduct of the Dogs In A Pile Hazy IPA that was flowing freely from the Pony’s taps thanks to Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing Company. Last I heard, having a beer named after you is a sure sign that things are going well.
Jimmy Law (guitar), Brian Murray (guitar), Jeremy Kaplan (keys), Sam Lucid (bass), and Joe Babick (drums) took the stage to a chorus of bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yeah’s as George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” blasted from the PA. Jimmy Law tossed the eager Dogpound a bone with his simple greeting, “Let’s f-cking get it!” before the band immediately backed his words and ripped into “Thomas Duncan, Part 2”, arguably the opus of their constantly expanding catalog.
That definitive opening statement was backed by a stretched-out and funk-laden “Go Set” with more heat to follow by way of “Stranger”, DiAP’s most recent single. Speaking of potential for big singles, “Ugly Song” followed with its easy hooks and three-way harmonies before “Appleseed” kept the dance party in high gear with its LCD Soundsystem vibes.
Prog, funk, psych, rock, trance, and dance, Dogs meld and bend genres with a fluidity and maturity that belies their age. They would put their penchant for jazz on display, too, as they welcomed the Ocean Avenue Stompers horn section to the stage for a jaw-dropping cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man”.
Dogs In A Pile With Ocean Ave Stompers Horns – “Watermelon Man” (Herbie Hancock) – 12/17/22
[Video: Marc Komito]
Playing with ferocity and intention, Dogs then wrapped up this all-timer of a homecoming set with “All The Same” and “Bent Strange”.
The horns would return for the entirety of the second set, which kicked off with a debut of Otis Redding’s “Can’t Turn You Loose” before a run of “Four More Days”, “Look Johnny”, and Billy Preston’s “Will It Go ‘Round In Circles?”.
“Time Stands Still”, making its first appearance in over eighteen months and 117 shows, was unleashed with fury before the band segued into “Por Que Pedro”, a fan favorite with Lucid taking a rare turn on vocals and Jeremy Kaplan adding his trumpet to the Ocean Ave horns. It was all fun all the time and the timely lyrics of “Craig and Pat” gave the crowd a chance to sing along, “Hey, we’re having a good time!” Somewhere after Craig and before Pat, the Ocean Avenue Stompers would sneak off the stage only to reappear on top of the bar for The Champs’ “Tequila”, which emerged in the middle of a “Craig and Pat” sandwich.
Road manager Kieran Tooker then came on stage in a Santa costume for lead vocals on a band debut of “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”. Notably, Mr. Tooker was accompanied by a dancing Christmas tree who stayed on stage for the duration. Whether your eyes focused on the musicians on stage or the sweaty, swaying crowd, it was impossible not to see a smile. “Let U Go” followed before “Trunk Rum” closed the set with an exclamation. “Tille” kicked off the three-song encore, followed by Phish’s “Gumbo” and “Say Something”.
The front end of this two-night set will surely go down in Dogs history with great regard. Likely, so too will Sunday’s follow-up as Dogs In A Pile welcome Nashville’s Sicard Hollow for a three-set show with each band playing a full set followed by a set of collaboration. For all of DiAP’s genre-bending theatrics, bluegrass has never come up in their context, so if you’ve ever wondered what Dogs would sound like with a fiddle, tonight’s your chance.
Check out a gallery of photos from Dogs In A Pile at The Stone Pony courtesy of photographer Nick Codina below.
Dogs will wrap up the most exciting year in their history with a Phish after-show at The Cutting Room on 12/30 before ringing in the New Year at The State Theatre in Portland, ME on 12/31. For tickets and information about the rest of their upcoming shows, click here.
Setlist [via go-set.net]: Dogs In A Pile | The Stone Pony | Asbury Park, NJ | 12/17/22
Set 1: Thomas Duncan, Part 2, Go Set, Stranger, Ugly Song, Appleseed, Watermelon Man, All the Same, Bent Strange
Set 2: Can’t Turn You Loose, Four More Days, Look Johnny, Will It Go ‘Round In Circles?, Time Stands Still > Por Que Pedro, Craig and Pat > Tequila > Craig and Pat, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, Let U Go > Trunk Rum
Encore: Tillie > Gumbo, Say Something
 Debut, with a band introduction from Nick Codina
 Debut, with Mr. Tooker on vocals
Show Notes: Watermelon Man and the entire second set featured the Ocean Avenue Stompers Horns. During Craig and Pat, the Ocean Avenue Stompers Horns moved to play standing on the venue bar. Mr. Tooker was dressed as Santa for Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree and was joined on stage by a dancing Christmas tree.