The Dogs

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author AP date 02/02/18 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

How The Dogs manage to juggle relentless touring and an as-of-yet unbroken tradition of releasing a full-length album on the first Monday of every year is beyond me. But having issued their newest outing, “The Grief Manual”, on New Year’s Day, the band is back in Denmark for the third time in a short period, to play a headlining concert at one of the more intimate venues that Copenhagen has to offer. It has been a little over a year since yours truly first became acquainted with the band, by virtue of their supporting Kvelertak at Amager Bio in late 2016, and they made such an impression on me that it felt almost devastating to miss out on their subsequent return to play a show of their own at BETA a couple of months after. There was thus little that could have kept me from attending tonight, and without giving too much away too early, I was not disappointed.

All photos courtesy of Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

The Dogs

Over the course of their six-year career, this Oslo, Norway-born garage-rock’n’roll sextet has built a reputation as an exhilarating live act, with the brunt of that appeal stemming from their vocalist, Kristopher Schau. He is one of the most unpredictable frontmen in rock music right now, and he makes a concerted effort to maintain the honour tonight. The second song of the evening, “All of Us Kids Were Accidents” has scarcely hit the halfway mark before Schau has appropriated one of the cameras from our photographer, stretched the waistline of his jeans and taken a series of photos of his manhood. Antics like this are an extension of the paradox of The Dogs’ music; the tone sounds uplifting, but beneath the surface the lyricism is anything but cheerful. That particular song deals with losing a close friend to suicide, yet near the end, Schau has a male audience member’s face in the cusp of his crotch and all around him, the five other musicians are rocking out enthusiastically. During the following “We Won’t Come Back”, Schau slowly makes his way through the audience and toward the bar, only to collapse onto the floor, legs pointing at the ceiling to dangle his microphone over his mouth in a display which is both emotive and amusing. And when the band transports us to their 2014-album, “The Tears Are Voodoo”, with the energetic “Shut Up”, Schau delivers most of the acerbic singing through the wool of another attendee’s beanie, which he has borrowed and pulled over his face.

But even though such gimmicks are an integral part of The Dogs’ live performance, it would be unfair to think of them as a comedy act. Armed with a Hammond organ, keyboard, as well as variety of percussion instruments on top of the usual two guitars, bass and drums, the group has written so many cracking songs that balance crushing emotional weight with extreme catchiness. As such, it is no surprise to hear plenty of people joining Schau in singsong when the likes of “Why Is the Flesh So Strong”, “Told with Bad Intent” and “The Children He Loves the Least” are played. The vocal melodies in this stuff are the chief ‘culprits’ for why the tracks stay with you despite the fact that there is little differentiation between one song and the next. It would nonetheless be an injustice to ignore the contributions of the five remaining musicians. With the exception of the bassist, none of them are on par with Schau when it comes to expressing themselves on stage, but still, there is no lack of energy in any corner of the stage; the music is played with nerve and the band rocks out tirelessly as it churns out the mixture of high-energy bangers and soulful ballads that comprise the majority of The Dogs’ repertoire. At times the music belies the haste with which the band wrote it in order to meet the annual deadline, and as Schau tones down his crazier impulses toward the end of the set, it becomes even more obvious that this is far from a one-man show.

The evening rounds off with a sprightly rendition of the fan-favourite “Oslo” (before which Schau of course seizes the opportunity to stoke the amicable rivalry that exists between their capital city and ours), and while I stubbornly maintain that The Dogs’ music would benefit from more diversity, it is difficult to argue with the fact that they’re fast becoming one of the most entertaining rock bands in the Nordic region. After the showmanship we have witnessed tonight, we can rest assured that The Dogs will return to Denmark in 2019 with new songs and even more live experience on the belt, and they can rest assured that Copenhageners will have no qualms about roaring ”O-S-L-O! O-S-L-O! OS-LO! OS-LO!” with them come that time.

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Setlist:

  • 01. We Were Made Out of Loss
  • 02. All of Us Kids Were Accidents
  • 03. We Won’t Come Back
  • 04. Shut Up
  • 05. Why Is the Flesh So Strong
  • 06. Told with Bad Intent
  • 07. Cry Me Sexy
  • 08. Hindsight
  • 09. Liar
  • 10. They Were Wrong
  • 11. Her Last Song
  • 12. Lie to Me
  • 13. Don’t Let Me Down
  • 14. The Children He Loves the Least
  • 15. G.U.I.L.T.Y.
  • 16. Oslo

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