The Hartford Courant (US), August 4, 1995


The sold-out, largely female crowd packed Toad's Place Wednesday night to catch a glimpse of superstar Hollywood pinup boy Keanu Reeves in the flesh.

When Reeves, who plays bass in the Los Angeles-based band Dogstar, walked on stage with his guitar strapped on, he didn't even acknowledge the pushy, territorial and idolizing throng that incessantly screamed, "Keanu, we love you'' at ear-piercing levels.

The stubble-faced Reeves staked out one end of the stage and didn't budge from the spot through the 40-minute set of typical unimpressive mainstream bar-rock. Dee Dee Ramone he's not.

Perhaps his day job monopolizes most of his practice time. Reeves' less-than-proficient bass playing and the band's uninspiring stage presence wore out the novelty quickly.

The reserved and self-contained Reeves kept his eyes fixed on his guitar, but every so often he looked up and smiled. The audience squealed and rushed the stage every time he made even the slightest move. Smuggled cameras flashed in his face every time he managed to look up.

Rounding out the 4-year-old band are actor and New Haven native Rob Mailhouse (a John Sayles/Greg Brady look-alike) on drums/vocals; Bret Domrose on guitar/vocals and Gregg Miller on guitar/vocals.

Ultimately, the spectacle was not the mediocre Dogstar, but the attendant mob, hostile and obnoxious. Heat exhaustion overcame five people who had to be pulled out of the Sassy swarm by on-stage security.

"It's a meatfest tonight. Nobody's peaceful here. Everybody's anxious to push each other out of the way,'' said Terri Parsell, 29, of Boston, an admitted Reeves groupie.

Music producer/director Joe Charbanic of Los Angeles, filmed parts of the show, which he will use in a 45-minute documentary called "Dogstar'' to be released on CD-ROM. The interactive video will include live and studio songs, family interviews and a look behind the scenes on the band's tour. The style of the video will be like Madonna's "Truth or Dare.''

For Reeves buffs, the name Dogstar was taken from a book and represents the brightest star in the sky. Reeves likes punk rock, too. His favorite bands are Fugazi and the Exploited, Charbanic said.

"Keanu's the consummate actor. This is his hobby release,'' Charbanic said, explaining the band's existence.

After the show ended at about midnight, groupies galore milled about in front of the band's tour bus and at each of the club's exit doors in order to get one last chance to salivate and swoon over Reeves.

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