Oct 8, 2023

Everything Turns Around

DogstarSomewhere Between The Power Lines and Palm Trees Tour
Sherman TheaterStroudsburg, PA
This is a band that I never expected to have the chance to see live in concert.  Dogstar started in the early 90's.  They released two full length albums and an EP and have toured the world, including gigs where they opened for David Bowie and Bon Jovi in 1995, but the band broke up after one final performance in Japan in October 2002.

There was virtually no news about the band for the next twenty years, but they quietly got back together during the early days of the Covid-19 Pandemic when its three members spent time together in quarantine.  They rehearsed together and wrote new music that became their third full length album, Somewhere Between The Power Lines And Palm Trees, which was officially released on Friday.

If you haven't heard of this band, I can almost guarantee you that you're familiar with at least one of its members.  The lead singer and guitarist of Dogstar is Bret Domrose, who has been a solo performer and has played guitar in several bands, including Berlin.  The drummer is Robert Mailhouse, who I know best for his role as Elaine's boyfriend in a Season 6 episode of Seinfeld called The Beard.  However, the bass guitarist is probably the reason why most folks have heard of this band.  His name is Keanu Reeves.  Yes... that Keanu Reeves.

Keanu Reeves has been one of my favorite actors since I saw him on the big screen for the first time when my grandfather brought me to the theater to see Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure when I was eight years old.  I loved a lot of his movies that were released when I was a teenager, like Point Break, SpeedJohnny Mnemonic, and The Devil's Advocate, and I enjoyed some of his comedic and dramatic roles that I found at the video store many years after their release, such as The Prince Of Pennsylvania, My Own Private Idaho, and Feeling Minnesota.  It just occurred to me that all of these movies have states in the title... this is totally accidental.  It's just the first three movies that came to mind when I think of the things that he's starred in that I rented on VHS back in the day.

The movie that made Mr. Reeves one of my favorite actors of all time is the reason why I'm sharing this incredibly dorky photo of me, because you can see the poster for it hanging on the closet door in my bedroom.  It was the 1999 action/sci-fi classic: The Matrix.  Looking back on it, I think that's the first movie that truly blew my mind... where I sat through the credits just staring at the screen and thinking "what the hell did I just see".  I hung that poster up the year that it was released and it stayed up until I moved out and got a place of my own.  I may even still have it somewhere in the garage.  God knows that everything else is boxed up in there somewhere!

I'm not going to pretend that I was a huge fan of Dogstar back in the 90's.  I probably would have been if I had ever had a chance to hear them because it's exactly the kind of music that I'm into (then and now), but their first run was years before YouTube and Spotify made practically every song ever recorded accessible to just about everyone at any time.  The most knowledge I can claim up to this Fall was that I had once heard that Keanu Reeves was in a band.  I remember thinking that it was pretty cool that Ted 'Theodore" Logan was in a real rock band, but for me, it was just one of those pieces of trivia that got filed away in the back of my brain somewhere... until that memory got dusted off when I opened an email from the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg that promoted their upcoming shows, one of which had a name that sounded vaguely familiar to me.  Dogstar... where have I heard that name before?

A quick Google search and $45 bucks later, I was the proud holder of a ticket to see Keanu Reeves and his band perform in concert.  I listened to a few seconds of their music on YouTube before the show, just to get a feel for what kind of band this was, but I didn't listen to any more than that.  I figured if I waited this long to hear their music, I could wait a few weeks longer and let my first experience of Dogstar be live and in person.

The band that opened for Dogstar at the Sherman Theater was Archer Oh.  Their website describes them as a "surfy indie garage band from Moreno Valley California".  They were pretty damn good!  If this band came out when I was in high school, I'd probably have thought of them as pop punk, but with a good energy and fun vibes.  There aren't any bands off the top of my head that I'd compare them to, but I'd definitely recommend checking them out.  I took a quick video of one of their songs called Drawings Of Nothing, and I think it's pretty representative of the set.

Chikara Young Lions Cup 5  (June 2007)

One thing that struck me is that the lead singer's look reminded me a bit of a pro wrestler that I saw at a Chikara show back in 2007.  His name is Cabana Man Dan.  I'm sure the dude looks quite a bit different 16 years later (I know I sure do), but as soon as I saw him take the stage, this wrestler immediately came to mind.

Dogstar took the stage next and performed a set of approximately 15 songs that were all great.  They definitely have a mid 90's alternative sound.  If you're into bands like Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms and Live, I'm confident that you would enjoy Dogstar too.

One thing that I was struck by is the deliberately understated role that the Hollywood star plays on stage.  This most definitely is not "The Keanu Reeves Show".  There was no reference made to him on stage that was any more than you would find towards the bassist at any rock concert, and I got the impression that this is exactly how he wants it.  I respect the hell out of that.  This wasn't a big movie star trying to upstage his bandmates.  It was just a guy in a rock band playing music and seeming like he enjoyed it every bit as much as the audience enjoyed seeing him.

I am not at all knowledgeable enough about Dogstar music to attempt to put together a setlist, but I did record six of the songs that they played.  This isn't one uninterrupted recording, but six different files that were stitched together.  The songs in this video were definitely played in this order, but there were songs in between that I did not record.  All of the music I heard was great, but I didn't want to spend the entire concert holding up a phone.