Dogs In A Pile go Westward and Truckin’

Article Contributed by Kevin Negron | Published on Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Like a train going westward, Dogs In A Pile (DIAP) spent the first weekend of February hitting three cities they’ve played before – but for the very first time as headliners. Texas greeted them back with open arms and has shown the band is firmly extending its reach to the South.

First up was Last Concert Cafe – Houston’s oldest live music venue. A "Westward" opened the run, an ode of sorts to moving on from a past love. As with many Dogs songs, the tune is peppered with motivational messaging that perfectly led into the uppity "Little Things". A 105-show "Magic Carpet Ride" bustout, the Dogs assured the "H-Town" crowd of a uniquely curated setlist for them. "You Didn’t Hear It From Me", written by Phish lyricist Tom Marshall, had another strong turn. "Spun" started a psychedelic string of jams that included a highlight cover of Lorde’s "Royals", another newer but fan-favorite tune "Shenanigans", and a set closing "G Song". A 22-plus minute "Shakedown Street" (featuring keyboardist Jeremy Kaplan scatting) showed off DIAP’s exploratory chops, much to the delight of those wearing Stealie hats and shirts. The loud cheers from the Houston attendees made the Asbury Park quintet smile from ear-to-ear as guitarist Brian Murray tossed his pick to a grateful receiver.

The Dogs then headed to the state’s capital to play iconic blues club Antone’s. Having built a solid buzz from previous opening shows with Twiddle and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong in Austin, DIAP sold out the venue that’s hosted legends such as Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Photo: Nick Codina

A bit before music started, a successful "Dog Pound" (the affectionally dubbed name for the band’s fans) meetup occurred at a local restaurant The Jackalope. A new tradition endorsed by the band as of the start of their Winter Tour, the Dogs wanted to give their fans a known place for every headlining stop on tour to meet and forge new friendships along the way. Ross Peterzell, Dogs’ manager, has envisioned something of the sorts from the very beginning: "We want to put our fans in a position to become friends with other fans. Who knows what can happen from there? The day there’s a Dog Pound baby will be one of the happiest days of my life."

Local music fan and Buffalo, NY transplant Nikolle McMahon – adorned with her brown camouflage Dogs In A Pile bucket hat was also there with a group of friends: "This will be my third time seeing the Dogs. After being at their Peach Festival set last June, I knew I couldn’t miss them when they came to my town. I know a lot of my East Coast friends have been talking about them for a while. It’s nice to see it catching on in Texas. It says a lot about the band. Not every improvisational band draws a big crowd in Austin. Everyone is so friendly too. That’s just a bonus but it helps a lot."

Photo: Nick Codina

A "Frosty" opener kicked off the two-set affair in Austin, followed by the twangy and country-infused "Look Johnny II" to get the crowd two-stepping. A staple DIAP song "Blues for Brian" stretched out to include a buttery "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)" cover. The classic "are they doing 2001?!" look and nod of approval occurred across the room as the audience heard it unfold. They transitioned back to finish "Blues for Brian" before Jimmy Law’s vocal showcase on Texas native Billy Preston’s "Will It Go ‘Round in Circles?". A rare second-set opening "Look Johnny" set the tone for a heavier second set and a cover of Widespread Panic’s "Greta" to follow. Heads banged and necks broke to the beloved tune that undoubtedly many young fans in the crowd grew up listening to. A trippy and synth-driven "Gumball" featured exceptional playing by the band’s rhythm section, bassist Sam Lucid and drummer Joey Babick. "Linus and Lucy" continued its streak of exciting peaks (Sony Hall’s 12/28/23 was also a notable version) while a standalone "EDM Song" into the ending of "Bubble" closed the show.

DIAP finished their Texas trio of shows in Dallas at Deep Ellum Art Co. An artsy and inspiring venue for an artsy and inspiring neighborhood of the “Big D”. Clearly, the Dogs were inspired as they settled comfortably into the night from the very first note. A "Rinky Dink Rag" and King of the Hill Theme combo got the fans hootin’ and hollerin’ early and often. A strong "Nicollete" jam, fun Kinks cover "Apeman", and "Bubble" kept the pedal on the gas into a smooth transition into Chick Corea’s "Spain". The Brian Murray-penned ballad "Back to the Start" provided a sentimental and poignant breather.

Photo: Nick Codina

"If the hill was really that tall, would you climb it all? And if the world is really that small, would you be running in a circle just to get back to the start?" A message to those shootings for their dreams, something the Dogs can certainly relate to as they watch their dreams start to bloom.

Jerry Reed’s "Eastbound and Down" came next to close the first set as the crowd belted out "loaded up and truckin’!". The longest jam of the night, "Tillie", opened the second set. The extended composition of "Thomas Duncan, Pt. 3" laid the stage for a monster-rendition of "Bent Strange". "Ghost Riders in the Sky" was sandwiched in between the jam into a second-ever played "Riders on the Storm". The show was finished off by perhaps one of their strongest tunes as a collective jam unit "Samba for Sam". Jeremy Kaplan busted out his trumpet to start the mosh-inducing "Por Que Pedro" before the band ended "Samba".

Photo: Nick Codina

The encore started off with Kaplan mentioning a run-in that the band’s equipment crew had with law enforcement due to a certain leafy green plant. The event occurred 54 years to the day that Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead got "busted down on Bourbon Street". The band made sure to send the crew and crowd off with a special treat – a first-time cover of "Truckin’". With the set of three headlining Texas shows in the books, one thing was evidently clear: the "Dog Pound" has arrived in the Lone Star State.

The Dogs released the pro-shot of Austin’s sold-out show shortly after its streaming release on Nugs and Bandcamp. They also delivered a compilation of some choice cuts from last year’s Fall Tour (Doggie Bag: Volume 1, Fall Tour 2023) across all major music platforms. They also posted a video cut of all but two of the songs on their YouTube channel. You can watch that and more here.