I first discovered Nottingham five-piece Dog is Dead many moons ago at Dot to Dot Festival, and was struck by how multifarious and unique sounding they were. Fast forward a couple of years and, ashamedly, only now am I catching them out on their own tour.
And my, how they’ve come on. They’ve done things the proper way, and put in the hard graft including support slots with the likes of OK Go and Bombay Bicycle Club along with countless festival appearances, garnering their own loyal fan base. By the looks of things it’s paid off too, with the band recently signing to Atlantic Records.
Even before they hit the stage it was evident they have already acquired an army of doting female fans. We noticed four young girls quite literally jumping for joy upon spotting band member Trev pre-gig watching the support acts, before giddily bounding over and bestowing a homemade biscuit on him. Very cute indeed.
Dog is Dead are the type of band that fit the aesthetics of The Deaf Institute perfectly, and as soon as they launched into opening number ‘River Jordan’ it was clear that not only do they look good but they sound good too. Very good.
The most striking thing is how harmonious they are. These boys can actually sing. We’re so used to seeing indie bands du jour drown out their mediocre voices with lashings of guitar and brazen drums, that hearing concordant, melodious voices like these is a real treat.
- Date: Tuesday 13th March 2012
- Event: Dog is Dead + Another's Blood at The Deaf Institute
- Venue: The Deaf Institute
Despite their debut album not even having been released yet, each song is met with much enthusiasm from the young crowd; songs old and new giving us a good indication of what to expect from the record. ‘Young’ is delivered with a kaleidoscope of shimmering projections, enhancing its glimmering summer infused sound. It also saw bassist Trev switch to saxophone and a sassy, jaunty jazz intonation reign through.
Lead singer Rob Milton has a beguiling quality to his deliverance, drawing you in with the astute, denotative lyrics. There’s a definite sense that their songs are more tales, past experiences and lessons learnt rather than mere words, with ‘Hands Down’ serving as an adept mid-set example of this.
Not only captivating, they come across as diligent, amiable and humble which makes for a pleasant sight given there are so many pretentious and abrupt bands doing the rounds. Rob informs us that they’d had The Deaf Institute on their check-list of places they hoped to headline for the past three years - and tonight’s sense of accomplishment and gratitude is obvious for all to see.
There’s a commendable variance during the set. They know when to be sky-scrapingly euphoric, and they know when to be disarmingly simple. They’ve also mastered the art of the slow burner that flourishes into an exalted ball of thwomping drums and growling guitars, showcased by the likes of ‘Head in Your Hands’. New single ‘Two Devils’ also throws a bit a bit of a curve ball with its darker, slightly manic undertones, proving they’re no one trick pony (or should that be dog?).
Crowd pleaser ‘Glockenspiel Song’ acted as a befitting end to the night and ignited much vocal appreciation from the younger members of the audience, the iconic lyric “we are a mess, we are failures and we love it” ringing amidst the sparkle of the infamous glitter ball.
And that was that. With our appetites well and truly whetted for the forthcoming record, they left us.
Polished, confident and proficient, Dog is Dead already have a great platform on which to build. Add to that the fact they’re deviating from the norm in fusing great harmonies with a bit jazz and quirky guitar, and they’re well on their way to breaking those support band shackles. I don’t care what Florence says; the dog days aren’t over, they’re only just getting started.
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