Dogs in a Pile, the Jam Scene's Newest Must-See Band, Comes to Denver | Westword
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Meet Dogs in a Pile, the Jam Scene's Newest Must-See Band

Dogs in a Pile plays the Bluebird Theater on Friday, February 16, and Saturday, February 17.
Dogs in a Pile plays the Bluebird Theater this weekend.
Dogs in a Pile plays the Bluebird Theater this weekend. Courtesy of Dogs in a Pile

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"How have you not heard of them?"

"You need to listen to their set from Peach Fest, it was insane!"

"Seriously, these guys are going to be big."

These are the types of statements that instantly accost you when you tell your hippie friends that you haven't yet seen Dogs in a Pile. The band has clearly been making waves in the jam scene, stretching its fan base — affectionately labeled the Dog Pound — beyond its hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey, throughout the East Coast and now into the West.

When we speak, the members of Dogs in a Pile are in Oklahoma sitting at a rest stop, one of the few somewhat quiet places where they can talk while on tour. This is the five-piece's third time touring nationally, and Denver will get to see what all the fuss is about when Jeremy Kaplan (keys), Jimmy Law (guitar), Brian Murray (guitar), Joey Babick (drums) and Sam Lucid (bass) take the stage at the Bluebird Theater on Friday, February 16, and Saturday, February 17.
click to enlarge guitarist on stage
The band released its first album in 2021.
Courtesy of Dogs in a Pile
One listen to the band's latest live album, Doggie Bag, and you can tell that Dogs in a Pile is on to something special. While the members are young — Babick just turned 21 — they're incredibly technically proficient, with tight jams that showcase cascading keys and jazzy guitar solos winding around overtly positive lyricism. The band's influences may be clear — the members point to Goose, Phish and Steely Dan — but the current sound is a solid foundation and indicator that Dogs in a Pile is successfully developing its own distinct and unique sonics.

Constantly touring has helped, too. "This being our third year doing this, I feel the most comfortable I have so far, just because we've done this so much already," says Murray. "It just feels like we've got this under our belt a little bit more. It's exciting."

"It definitely feels like there's more of a flow and continuity going into this year," Law adds. "Last year we played 140 shows, and this year we're set to play about 100. And the way we mapped our tour out — it's a little more spaced and more comfortable for us, so we can focus a little more on making better products...and there's a lot bigger and more exciting dates coming up this year."
click to enlarge guitarist on stage singing into a microphone
The group is quickly solidifying itself as a must-see band in the jam scene.
Courtesy of Dogs in a Pile
This isn't the band's first time in Denver. Murray says he loves seeing jazz at the Meadowlark whenever he's in town, and the members have several friends here in the jam scene. "It's funny; I think there are a lot of expatriated East Coasters in Colorado," says Kaplan.

Jazz has made its way into the Dogs in a Pile sound, which came together as organically as the band itself. Babick and Law have known each other since they were five years old. "Our parents kind of grew up together, and later on we started going to Dead shows, Furthur shows, Phil shows; we'd see a lot of concerts together," Babick says. "So we grew up together, and then we had a mutual friend who introduced us to Sam, our bass player. And then Sam ended up going to Berklee in Boston and ended up meeting Brian and Jeremy."

The band released its first album, Not Your Average Beagle, in 2021, and soon Babick and Law found themselves and their band headlining the same venue they'd go to together growing up: the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, the venue where Bruce Springsteen cut his teeth.

That wasn't the only milestone the band crossed; Peach Festival was monumental for Dogs in a Pile. "There were a lot of people there; it was pretty nuts," Babick recalls. 
click to enlarge keyboardist on stage
Dogs in a Pile is working on its next album.
Courtesy of Dogs in a Pile

"It was cool, because the year before we first played Peach, we all went together just as attendees, and we all watched Dopapod on the Mushroom Stage, which is the same stage we played," he adds. "We thought it was the sickest shit ever. And that's when Dopapod became our collective favorite jam band."

It's still surreal to them that Dogs in a Pile is now considered a favorite jam band by many fans. Known for its tight improvisation, the band has songs that carry specific space for such on-the-spot movements. But those moments have also carried into "the parts that always get played the same," Babick adds. "They've kind of been changing into their own kind of weird little things, which has been very fun and interesting recently."

That in itself has influenced the members' new material. "We are actually coming up with new music, and we just started putting more thought toward our next album," Babick says. "We got the track list picked and everything, and we started working on arrangements and things."

As for how their sound has evolved since when they first started playing, "we're just better now," Law says. "Way better."

See for yourself at the Bluebird: You could become the latest member of the Dog Pound.

Dogs in a Pile, 8 p.m. Friday, February 16, and Saturday, February 17, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are available at bluebirdtheater.net.
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