A date with his band, Dogstar
by Anne Ayers
Dogstar drew Beatlemanic screams Tuesday at the tiny 9:30 Club, the capital's hip alterna-rock hot spot.
If Keanu Reeves weren't the bass player, there'd be no 40-foot tour bus out front (rented from Pearl Jam), nor a babe-a-thon packing the sold-out sweatbox (capacity 350). But, though the heavy-decibel din outstripped the talent, the band CAN play.
"Good" might be stretching it, but Dogstar did a credible hour of noisy punk-grunge-pop Tuesday: 14 originals and an encore cover of Neil Young's Rockin' in the Free World, which began with a genuine Rock Moment: Reeves' low E string broke, but he played through with bravado. At its best - on All I Want, Honesty Anyway and Camp - the sound is Green Day manque, capped by a strong, bluesy closer, Blue Dog.
As fan Candace Hawthorn, 25, put it, "They're 10 times better" than the Wyld Stallyns, the band that whisked through history in Reeves' starmaking movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
An intent bassist, Reeves laid a solid foundation and kept a low profile under his black knit cap. He sang only one song, worse than badly. (But even his slightest move drew deafening screams; his few between-song words were drowned out by the 80% female crowd, as were most of the show's lyrics.)
Singing isn't any member's forte (they share the duty), though the best vocalist is drummer Rob Mailhouse. Tall, blond Bret Domrose looks the part but is better on second guitar; he joined the 3 1/2-year-old band last year after guitarist/vocalist Gregg Miller hired him as a guitar tech.
After six sold-out dates in Japan last month, the quartet recorded three songs, says co-manager Kenny Funk, and is "shopping" the demo tape to labels.
"If they put out a record, I'd buy it," concluded John McWilliams, 25.