The Golden Dogs – North Star Bar, Philadelphia Pa.

I’ve cultivated a love-hate relationship with Philadelphia’s North Star Bar. It’s a kick ass venue, but there is almost always a problem at the door when I’m reviewing shows there; it’s usually the bouncer telling me that he doesn’t have a list. This happened Wednesday night when I was going to see one of Canada’s greatest modern bands, The Golden Dogs.

I got to the door and the same bouncer as always was waiting at there to check IDs, take money for tickets and to tell me that he didn’t know about a list. That night, however, by some small miracle, he let me through anyway. When I walked into the bar’s performance space, I realized why.

For some strange reason, the place was dead. Aside from myself, there was a couple wrapped up in each other in the corner by the sound booth and four or five other guys scattered around, two leaning against the far left wall and two in the middle of the room. Over the past summer I’d seen The Golden Dogs pack out The Khyber in a different part of town, so I was dumbstruck when I walked into an almost empty North Star. I could only imagine that the North Star is dead every Wednesday night, since the bar area was also desolate, and I’ve seen the place packed out Thursday through Saturday. I felt terrible for the band, but they took it in stride, cracking jokes about how they’d only reserved the bar to practice in since they’d been writing a lot of new material on this tour.

Despite the lacking audience, The Golden Dogs gave a performance worthy of several sold out nights at Madison Square Garden. The adrenaline pumping through the veins of Dave Azzolini (guitar, vocals), Jessica Grassia (keyboards, vocals), Taylor Knox (drums) and Stew Heyduk (bass) seems almost unreal. The almost ten year-old band (formed in 1999 by Azzolini and Grassia, now married), has been taking motherland Canada and the United States by storm with their two releases Everything In 3 Parts and Big Eye, Little Eye as well as with their ridiculously insane and fun live show.

The band adds a healthy dose of grit to its pop sensibilities causing a raucous live set as they feed off their own energy and the crowd’s energy, which consisted mostly of me bouncing around to the power packed riffs and striking beats, compliments of Knox’s ridiculous drumming skills. The Golden Dogs put on a high energy show that is not to be missed. Here’s hoping all the writing on this tour puts the band in position to release a highly-anticipated record later this year.

Catch The Golden Dogs on May 15th at The Great Escape Festival in the UK.

The Golden Dogs: website | myspace | listen to “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

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2 Responses

  1. The show at Khyber was them opening for Electric Six… Which I’ve seen at the North Star Bar, The Khyber and in NYC’s Bowery Ballroom. Electric Six packs houses everywhere (including the North Star). When I caught The Golden Dogs by accident opening for ES at The Khyber I loved them.

    Needless to say I caught them at the North Star this round too. The are great and I really hope the stay together and keep rocking. I got ID’ed… I paid the cover so there was no chance for guest list BS. 🙂

    Wednesday in this city is a lousy day to be in a an up and coming band without a well known headliner to pull people out of the woodwork. I’ve seen to many sold out shows on various days to blame the North Star’s location or bouncer on people not coming out. I’d be more likely to take a shot at bad promotions and then people just not Knowing that The Golden Dogs ROCK!

    Hey! Remember – If you are reading this – The Golden Dogs are amazing! Catch them anywhere, anytime and ANYPLACE you can!

    Chloe R.

  2. Chloe, you’re totally right on! I totally forgot they’d opened for E6 at the Khyber that night. I had to leave after The Golden Dogs’ set unfortunately.

    Hopefully some people will read this review and check them out in Philly next time. I wasn’t blaming the bouncer for no one getting into the show, just that everytime I’m supposed to be on the list at North Star, he never has any idea what I’m talking about — it never happens when they’re taking IDs/money at the show entrance rather than the front door. But whatever, just glad to have gotten in!

    Thanks for reading 🙂

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