Musicians and venues haven’t been the only ones forced to adjust to live music’s new—and hopefully increasingly temporary—normal. Production teams, management groups, and booking agents have been forced to pivot and tap new reserves of creativity. As logic would follow, so, too, has the end user had to adapt and survive; a function of necessity over choice if live music is your thing.
As fans and musicians remain separated from in-person performances due to the pandemic, bands continue to rely upon live streams for the delivery of much-desired content and revenue. But as necessity is the mother of invention, the days of streaming from the living room seem to be far behind us. We all remember what it was like to see a concert in our favorite venue with a band in front of us, lights flashing and popping around us and big concert sound pouring from the PA as a room full of fans dance and scream and take it all in.
Now, imagine the same thing but minus the crowd, everything in front of you real as can be, but turn around and you’re in an empty venue or, odder still, on a Hollywood soundstage designed to look like one. For the consumer at home, the recipient of the final product as interpreted through a series of screens, it’s a production of the highest value. But for those very few in attendance, it’s a magic trick of the highest order.
Dogs In A Pile played a live, two-set show on February 4th from High Peaks Event Production’s state-of-the-art facility in Saratoga, NY. While High Peaks provides access to staging and lighting equipment typically reserved for national touring acts and regional festivals, the Tree of Forgiveness virtual nightclub uniquely gives fans the opportunity to interact with bands in a meet and greet format both pre- and post-show, thereby packaging the big-time production value of a nationally touring act with the small club intimacy of your favorite local venue. Even more significantly, their shows are promoted, produced, and staffed by a small crew of volunteers whose unpaid efforts allow 100% of revenue to be passed along to the artists.
Dogs In A Pile is a product of the rich Asbury Park, NJ music scene by way of the Berklee College of Music. This marked the genre-spanning jam band’s third appearance with Tree of Forgiveness and fourth at High Peaks studio. Choose your favorite spot to consume live music and that’s where the stage appeared to be—except it was really in a corrugated metal warehouse in Saratoga Springs, NY. Heavy black curtains partitioned the space from floor to ceiling, professional lighting rigs lined the stage and hung from the rafters, and a small viewing area sat in front of the band, the equivalent of two or three rows of seating. When this fan-first writer was invited to attend, to remember that now-elusive feeling of being in the audience, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
The group quickly found its stride, Brian Murray and Jimmy Law leading the way early with a bevy of eye-popping guitar solos. Putting their signature knack for composition mixed with improvisation on display, Dogs impressed with a mix of original debuts and old favorites. As the first-ever live performance of “Time Stands Still” drew to a close in the first set, the guitars dropped out and the rear-stage trio of Jeremy Kaplan (keys), Joe Babick (drums), and Sam Lucid (bass) took us on an improvisational journey through the Berklee College of Music jazz department. A Jeremy Kaplan keyboard solo emerged, eventually passing the baton to Sam Lucid for a stroll on his six-string Modulus bass that eventually found its footing in a highly memorable “Craig & Pat”.
Dogs In A Pile – “Craig & Pat” > “Can’t Wait For Tonight” – 2/4/21
[Video: Marc Komito]
The second set started off with the band’s opus, “Thomas Duncan Pt. 2”, replete with a detour through the Grateful Dead’s “Slipknot!” (which previewed some late-set goodness yet to come) and The Beatles’ “Wild Honey Pie”. Lest we all forget that Dogs is a jam band, “Charlie” both started and finished an uninterrupted hour of music which included covers of Smash Mouth’s “Walkin’ On The Sun”, the Grateful Dead’s “Help On the Way” > “Slipknot!”, and originals “Spun”, “Trunk Rum”, and “Bugle On the Shelf”.
Dogs In A Pile – “Charlie” > “Walkin’ On The Sun” (Smash Mouth) > Spun > Trunk Rum > Help On the Way (Grateful Dead) > Slipknot! (Grateful Dead) > Bugle On The Shelf > Charlie – 2/4/21
[Video: Marc Komito]
At various moments throughout the show it occurred to me that we were getting a sneak-peak of their future selves, not least of all what it will look like when their traveling crew includes a well-rehearsed lighting director. Beyond that, the level of “acting” involved in the band’s ability to go full-tilt for a skeleton crew of fans in a metal warehouse highlighted the professionalism and maturity of these young musicians. In lieu of riding the wave of energy usually offered up by a crowd of frenzied fans—alas, there was just one—the band had to look within to conjure an Academy Award worthy performance. This was every bit a real concert, despite the small handful of people in the room.
Jazz, blues, and rock; composition, improvisation, and extensive jams; Dogs In A Pile checks all the boxes. Stay tuned for the imminent release of their first-ever album, and be sure to visit the Tree of Forgiveness Virtual Nightclub website for upcoming events with Waiting on Mongo and Magnolia Boulevard. 16,866 exclusive steps…
Scroll down to check out a gallery of photos from the Dogs In A Pile livestream from High Peaks Event Production courtesy of photographer Ron Adelberg.
Setlist: Dogs In A Pile | High Peaks Event Production | Saratoga Springs, NY | 2/4/21
Set One: Something Like Olivia!, Didn’t Ya Know* > Look Johnny, Hesitate*, Snow Day, Time Stands Still* > Craig & Pat > Can’t Wait For Tonight
Set Two: Thomas Duncan Pt. 2^ > Wild Honey Pie# > Thomas Duncan Pt. 2, Charlie > Walkin’ On The Sun% > Spun > Trunk Rum > Help On the Way$ > Slipknot!$ > Bugle On The Shelf > Charlie
Encore: Lazy Day, Write You A Song*
! John Mayer
* First Time Played
^ Slipknot! jam
# The Beatles
% Smash Mouth, FTP
$ Grateful Dead