Home / Concert Reviews / Dogs in Ecstasy w/ Cave and Catacombz @ Riverwest Public House
Monday, Oct. 7, 2013

Dogs in Ecstasy w/ Cave and Catacombz @ Riverwest Public House

Oct. 4, 2013

dogs in ecstasy
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Though they may not always get the attention they deserve, perhaps due to their jokey-sounding name, Dogs in Ecstasy’s undeniably infectious blend of pop fundamentals, garage-punk brevity and grungy shred has, in relatively short order, made them one of the most essential bands on Milwaukee’s currently bustling rock scene. That’s not to say that the surreal irreverence of their name isn’t apt, coming through in the lyrics and on their hilarious social media presence, but you shouldn’t let its many novel connotations keep you from checking them out, and their excellent new album Dat Cruel God, the release of which they were celebrating Friday, is an ideal way to do that. 

Getting things going Friday was another local band, Catacombz, who’ve been playing out with an almost entirely new, somewhat stylistically divergent set of late. When they first debuted it a few months ago, the new sounds worming their way into the mix—a little more danceable here, a little more pop there—caused a little unevenness, but they’ve since been synthesized more or less seamlessly into the heady, driving psych that’s earned them a considerable following. It’s a little strange to hear songs from them with more conventional structures, and stranger still with lyrics you can actually make out, but it feels natural now, fitting comfortably into their well-established aesthetic.

Next up was Dogs in Ecstasy themselves, who’s set was characteristically short, considering that even the new album, out on Organalog Records as a digital download or limited-edition cassette, clocks in at less than 15 minutes. Nonetheless, they pack an amazing amount of punch into a limited timeframe. The recording does a good job of representing the trio’s sound, full of boy/girl vocals and fuzzy guitar hooks, but live it takes on a likably off-the-cuff charm. Perhaps unusual for a record release, the band mainly used the stage to show off new material, like the catchy “Dat Cruel God,” which, counter-intuitively, doesn’t actually appear anywhere on the album of the same name.

Closing the show were Chicago psych mainstays Cave, who’ve undergone some lineup changes recently, saying goodbye to longtime keyboardist Rotten Milk and recruiting an additional percussionist/multi-instrumentalist, losing some of their cosmic aura, but gaining a new sense of syncopated funkiness in the process. The transition seems to have realigned the band’s focus toward a more organic, earthbound variation on proggy hard rock (dig those jazzy flute lines!), one that’s more concerned with exploring a groove than blasting off. There’s a bit less room for powerhouse drummer Rex McMurry to really let loose, but it’s still heavy as all get-out, providing a fitting end to a particularly fun night at the Public House.