Kevin Brennan and Aiden McCoy Music Reviews
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Everything's Coming Up Dogleg Kevin Brennan When I met Alex Stoitsiadis of Dogleg after a loaded Pyramid Scheme lineup headlined by an impressive Birdie Country set, he seemed relaxed, at home. One might expect him to be tired after playing a set as energetically as he had for a sizable crowd on a warm Grand Rapids evening. The only evidence of exhaustion was a sweaty mop of hair and a very very big smile. "I started the band on my own and then I asked the other guys to join and they said f— yeah let's do it." F— yeah let's do it seems to be an attitude that permeates Dogleg's music. Driving hooks give way to catchy choruses all backed by headbanging, yet approachable riffs. They're not twinkly or overtly soft as is the trend in emo at the moment, yet they're not too loud or noisy. Their sound is balanced, tuned, and interesting; especially for a band of their size.
Don't let their size fool you though, there are big things in store for Dogleg. "We have a new album that we just finished, and we just signed to a record label, can't say who but... it's awesome." The future, then, is quite bright for the four-piece from Rockford who got their start playing house shows and small gigs in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. "House shows are the best places to play," Stoitsiadis said, "you're on the same level as the crowd, you can talk to them." This desire for intimacy immediately came through in their performance, as they asked everyone to get as close to the stage as they could. Dogleg feeds off that energy as well; multiple times, Stoitsiadis would step onto the monitor, out of the lights in order to clearly see the crowd and gauge their energy. He explained this saying, "I love [The Pyramid Scheme], but I don't like how the stage is so high... I don't like looking down on [the crowd] I wanna be with you."
As quickly as they are growing, Dogleg still faces many of the same challenges that plague other bands in Michigan's talent-saturated DIY scene. When asked what the band's biggest challenge was as far as getting the band noticed here in West Michigan, he responded by saying "getting out here... it's such a far drive for us. Sometimes we've come out to shows that are a complete bust, but we've just got to keep coming and keep trying to do it... but the more you do it the better it gets." He and the band are aware of these challenges, but are very motivated. "We just want to go and play as many places as possible." Dogleg are a band that, while very focused on where they are going, are enjoying the view on their way there.
\\\\\ WCKS Music Magazine Volume 1 Issue 1 7 November, 2019
GRock Show or Bust Aidan McCoy
It was a dark and greasy night on August 31st, 2019. I had just ended my shift at the Main Street Pub in Allendale and felt a craving of head-banging music in my stomach. So, I left my part time job still in my blotchy, ranch covered uniform and I drove to the Pyramid Scheme downtown to fill this void. I arrived to see one of the most rambunctiously heartfelt concerts anyone could hope for. Four bands performed (Dogleg, Hexing, Antighost, and Birdie Country), all with their own flair and rowdy followers. First up was Dogleg, a fast-paced skate-punk band out of Rockford, Michigan. They put on a great opening act to rile up the crowd and get them ready for Hexing. Hexing, a five-piece emo band from Muskegon, always full of emotion that they convey effectively every show they play. Next on the stage was Antighost from Detroit. Another emo punk band with a much harsher sound and rowdier stage presence. To give these guys five stars would be an understatement, as soon as they went on the crowd pushed up to the rail, and the whole floor was a mosh-pit within seconds. Lead singer Sean even did a daring stage dive with his guitar in hand, hitting an unsuspecting radio personality in the head. After the crowd had settled, it was Birdie Country’s turn to keep the show rolling. The first thing that popped out to me was their visuals. They had old TV’s stacked on top of each other on either side of the stage showing the bands name and logo, with a killer light show to put the cherry on top of the sonic ice cream sundae that is Birdie Country. With a more then talented guitarist in their arsenal, not to mention their vocals, Birdie Country set the show ablaze. Their emotionally driven sound was translated perfectly to the crowd, with the closing song ending with embraces between strangers, and a seemingly divine lift in the air of the lead singer, Matt. For a band from right here in Grand Rapids, their show was impressive and professional. The crowd left with legs like noodles, and bombshells in their ears. But the bands that went on that night touched the hearts of many, as well as proved that Grand Rapids is the place to be for the punk music scene.
\\\\\ WCKS Music Magazine Volume 1 Issue 1 7 November, 2019
All on the Same Bike Kevin Brennan and Aidan McCoy
Usually, when you listen to an EP by your run-of-the-mill local emo/punk band, you expect to not be challenged; you expect a few headbangers, a sad song or two and an anticipation for the next house show where you can bob your head with a beer in hand. Hexing is no run-of-the-mill local punk band. Their sophomore EP, In Tandem comes out tomorrow, November 8th, and we have been privileged enough to be able to listen to it ahead of its release. Eyebrows raise the second this record starts and the first thing you notice is, well, everything. This is a band from Muskegon with less than 500 followers on Twitter (change that, follow them @HexingMi) and less than 300 monthly listeners on Spotify, yet they have made an album that sounds on par with any main stream punk band you can name as far as production quality goes, thanks to Nick Diener of The Swellers fame. Their sound itself is on par with those bands as well. Well constructed tunes, concise, catchy, at times heavy, and not at all derivative. The songwriting on this record as well is not your typical "I'm sad" emo drivel. This record tackles issues like death, grief, and even some politics all while making it not too sad or too cheesy. They don't look at these issues lightly either, they pour their hearts into every song. We had the opportunity to have Hexing on our show "The Fresh Coast Boys" (Mondays 6-8:30 on whaleradio.org) and in talking to them, you get a sense of what this band is really about. Family.
The songs on this record were written by the band as a family. While many bands have one, maybe two members writing a majority of the songs on each record, Hexing writes most of their songs as a group. When listening to this record, then, you not only hear about the experiences and feelings of one member of the band, but of the band as a unit. They've been doing this from the start as well. Their first EP, Temporary, came out over a year ago and still sounds good, but In Tandem shows incredible growth from then, and even from their last release, a two song single entitled Everything is a Bummer, they show that they're not going away any time soon. They've developed into real artists, not just "some band from Muskegon" and are driven to be true creators in the genre.
If you are a punk fan, you will enjoy this record. If you enjoy live shows and screaming your lungs out while soaked in sweat, as we do, you will love this record. "Car Crash" the opening track, jumps right into the record with no nonsense, wasting no time with its crowd pleasing chugging, catchy hook and interesting variation in intensity to keep the head-banging, foot-tapping listener on their toes. You will also realize that Hexing is significant in one important respect: these guys can actually sing. Very well. Their sound is musical and melodic, not just all...yelly and screamy (don't get us wrong we love yelly and screamy, but this is refreshing). "Fleetwood Mac Sex Pants" is a perfect example of a headbanger that shows off guitarist Austin Quillen's gravelly and true voice. The band dives deep into tough topics in "Save you" and "Love Grieve" which tackle death, grief, moving on and making the best out of the tragic instabilities of life. Emo is not just about being sad and Hexing nail this. In Tandem approaches emotion in a mature way, making the best out of things in spite of how bad you or someone you love may feel.
The only discernible issue with In Tandem is its length. The quality of the production implies that they should be miles ahead of where they are in reality and it leaves you wanting more, it feels a bit like there is more to come; which, in Hexing's case, is absolutely correct. The EP release show is December 21st at the Pyramid Scheme with Greet Death (also coming off of a new release), Antighost, and Okaycool. This show is being put on by Audiotree Presents, the brand new show booking arm of live session production company Audiotree. This is a huge step for Hexing and we anticipate that when the time comes, a debut full length will be made well, and with integrity.
All in all, not only a great EP, but a great EP made by good people. Go see them live and chat with them afterwards, you'll see what we mean.
Rating by The Fresh Coast Boys (Aidan and Kevin) 5.5/6
\\\\\ WCKS Music Magazine Volume 1 7 November, 2019