Iron Minds (US), November 7, 2000
What is the Dogstar?
by Jami Attenberg
I think I went to a rock show last week. There was a band, lots of people, drinks, smokes and all the other things that go into rock. But it didn't feel real. In fact, it almost felt like I was in an alternate universe. The environment was too pristine. The crowd was well groomed and behaved. What kind of rock show is that?
I was witnessing the magic of Dogstar, a band featuring stoner movie star Keanu Reeves, a former middle-tier soap opera star who has to be closing in on his 40s and a blond guy who looked like the lead singer for the Goo-Goo Dolls about two haircuts ago. A feeling brewed inside of me, and suddenly I had to know: What is the Dogstar? Was this band playing in front of me, collectively, The One? How could I be sure?
Let's examine the evidence:
We were at beautiful Chelsea Piers in New York City, Pier 59. The room itself was standard, but the outdoor deck was amazing. New Jersey hovered in the background, as the last traces of a dramatic, pollution-laden sunset (nobody does pink like car exhaust fumes) sprinkled the sky. It was a little too clean, a little too perfect. It was, more than anything, a photo opportunity.
The party was sponsored by Mademoiselle, DKNY and Chambord (a.k.a., sugar liquor), which meant there were lots of skinny girls wearing similar summer outfits. They were all Do's, much as I am a Don't. As we checked in, I noticed that all of the door girls had identical nose jobs, sliced thin for maximum (or rather minimum) profile effect. They were all tan, and kind of creepy.
No real rock band could hope to attract as many hotties as there were in the audience. Of course, the Mademoiselle/DKNY sponsorship provided a built-in young, attractive audience base of editorial assistants making 22K a year (who also magically have a monthly clothing budget of exactly the same amount — thanks, Daddy!), and assorted other youngsters with Hamptons tans. I don't think any of them really liked rock music, though. But they sure liked Keanu.
They were all tall, well-dressed and wearing those little squiggly ear pieces presumably linking them to a secret control center that documented Keanu's every move. What could possibly warrant those safety measures? Perhaps they weren't really security guards, but evil death agents from an alternate universe. Or were we already in that alternate universe?
The Star Count
The sky was full of 'em. Heh. Ahem. Sorry. No really, I saw the woman who won the MTV VJ competition a year ago, and a guy who resembled Ryan Phillipe or that curly-haired guy from That 70s Show, except not enough, and two women who were definitely porn stars of some sort. That's about it. This was veneer celebrity; glossy, with little substance; celebrity twice removed. The Name
Nine years ago I was briefly engaged to a man who wanted to name his first child Dogstar. Had I married him, had a child with him, and named my first child Dogstar, I would be killing myself right now.
While introducing Dogstar, a cute, bottled blonde announced that they were just back from a month in Japan. Go Japan. However, if the coolest thing my band did was play Japan, I would probably tell the chick to shut up and say, "Here's Dogstar."
Keanu was wearing a suit. It was a hot suit, black with a purple shirt, and he looked fine because Keanu is incredibly gorgeous. But unless you're in a freaking ska band or Urge Overkill circa 1991 or it's, like, your birthday, do not wear a suit onstage.
I don't count as the media, because I don't get paid enough, and besides, I was just there for the free drinks. Fox News, however, saw fit to send a trampy little reporter and camera crew to cover Keanu. Based on her behavior, I think she might have been there for the free drinks, too.
At one point she mounted someone's shoulders so that the camera could get footage of her bouncing and rocking. Should that tape get shown, she would have actually succeeded in creating the impression that everyone was having a good time. I watched her wave her hands around. I kept waiting for her to take off her top, or at least for someone to hurl a beach ball in her face.
We watched her later as she preened for the camera, doing fake ninja moves. She was less than 5 feet tall and weighed maybe 80 pounds, five of which were courtesy of Max Factor.
Dogstar did not look like they were having fun — at all. They looked like they were trying to remember what their producers and managers told them to do. They know how to play their instruments, but that's like saying I know how to type without looking at my fingers. (I do not, however, know how to use a pen.) They sound kind of like ... Bush maybe?
There was one song, one moment, where they seemed on the verge of rocking out. And then, there they were. They did. I heard them. They rocked out for a good 15 seconds. I gritted my teeth and yelled, "Just. Keep. Doing. That." (And now you know what it's like to sleep with me.) But they didn't listen. Fifteen seconds of glory does not equal 15 minutes of fame.
The Double Cover
The last piece of evidence. The push that proved that Dogstar is The One. They did a cover song, but they didn't do a fresh, new cover. They covered The Carpenters' "Superstar," but what they really did was a cover of the excellent Sonic Youth cover of "Superstar," except without the whole cool rock band sensibility, fun, noisy guitars, and Thurston Moore. Basically, without the whole "excellent" part.
The Double Cover has long been an elusive entity in the rock world, on par with, say dodging bullets from evil death agents from an alternate universe or dying and coming back to life, all in a really stylish Armani suit. Did they decide to do that song themselves? Or did someone hand-pick it for them?
All of these facts confirm the truth: Dogstar is The One. They epitomize celebrity-obsessed excess. Blend a hot, brooding leading man, an insane amount of connections and the Double Cover. Plug it all into an amp, and you've got a rock band. Although they might have every opportunity in the world to succeed, they have no hunger, no desire to rock out, no drive to kick ass. Accordingly, Dogstar will never be a really good rock band. Except maybe in Japan.