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Dog Unit @ Omeara (Live Review)

  • Written by  Captain Stavros

Dog Unit

@ Omeara, London

Words & Pics by Captain Stavros

Hot on the heels of an eco-friendly album release, At Home, and a sold-out show at the Lexington earlier this month, where not even yours truly could get a spot to review, the masses are lapping up the hype swirling around none other than Dog Unit. Full disclosure: there will be dog pawns a-plenty in this done here review.

Outside Omeara, where a ‘doors open at 5:30pm’ has turned into doors at 6:30, the queue continues to grow as our patience shrinks. Eventually, we make it through the door only to be faced by a human fence across the front of the stage. Nestled in between the ammonia stenches emanating from human trees, likely coming down from a two-day jag where bathing comes second to Red Stripe tinnies, we settle in; breathing through our mouth and hoping to god the set is worth it.

John Kennedy – of X-Posure, which has just turned 25, brought together a celebration of chart climbing semi-underexposed bands, most notably for us, Dog Unit. To be fair, we were impressed with Prima Queen and Chartreuse’ set so big shout out to them for their fine performances respectively indeed. John insisted on introducing, Lucy, Sam, James and Henry by name as they hit the stage in matching boiler suits. They form an intimate setup, with Sam and Henry sat across each other, guitar in laps, as James looms above, bass in hand, with Lucy as over-watch on the drums; keeping the fiends at bay with a steady rhythm.

It’s not easy reviewing an instrumental group without a track-list or opportunity for a quick interview but we’re gonna try; while some might buck at strictly instrumentals, for us, it's the soundtrack to our lives without a muddled dialogue and, in our opinion, sometimes that's just what we need. The opener, straight liquid chill, which the crowd is pretty pleased with. It’s not easy making this set come off as effortless which to their credit is a low-key flex. The crowd has pushed forward and the gaps in the audience have filled up. Launched out of the gate by James Weaver's propulsive, funk-laden basslines, it's a perfect showcase of Walton and Scowcroft's dancing, interlocking guitars, all held in place by drummer Lucy Jamieson's deceptively dexterous beats.

Combining melancholic melody with lush, atmospheric accompaniment. Their unique sound — instrumental music that leans just as heavily on the tune-first, purist pop qualities reminiscent of instrumental bands in arms Foxtrot Sierra and the Uniforms, Captain Rico & The Ghost Band, Khruangbin. Dog Unit’s got a bit more bite than the aforementioned, when someone, somewhere, steps on a switch on a board toggling a grungy fuzz that kicks in as much as it kicks out. Tremolos rip up and down the fret board both on guitar and bass alike. Lucy’s percussion is in lockstep with James’ bass and both punch out for a bit of flavour.

Set highlights for us were Sam Walton’s tiny piano, affectionately named Harpy Harpington (by us, don’t ask why) and when Lucy pulled out gong sticks to play her kit. The sounds were ever so subtle and enveloping, well played. It's very apparent that the band is meant to complement each other's strengths. There’s contrast instead of conflict in these twangy and tripped out pseudo psychedelics, and we are totally here for it. These lot form a cohesive unit and their charming tones are certainly of the seductive persuasion. The term, ‘a tough act to follow’ came to mind more than a few times watching Dog Unit who will be touring extensively into the Autumn, keep that info on…. a tight leash, waaaay-o.

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