featuring Peter Wise
October 14, 2018 at Great Scott
On a rainy night in Allston, Joey Dosik managed to fuse basketball, inside voices, and Marvin Gaye for one of this year’s highlight performances.
On a night littered with rainstorms, the constant malaise of a greyed out sky felt almost inescapable. The mood was low and even a hearty round of seolleongtang with friends wasn’t enough to get me out of a rut. The soup had left me feeling full, but not entirely content. Luckily, the aperitif for the evening happened to be a show headed up by one of the foremost artists in soul to date.
Joey Dosik, LA-tried and true multi-instrumentalist, has a packed resume. As a formative member of funk group Vulfpeck, Dosik has been the jack of all trades — singing, writing, and even appearing in numerous videos for the group’s cult-adjacent following to endlessly digest. This nurturing atmosphere has boded well for Dosik, using the platform to test out new material and warm a potential audience to his music. Vulfpeck’s latest studio album, Mr. Finish Line, featured arrangements from his own back catalog, including songs such as “Running Away” and “Grandma Song”. Now that Dosik has released his debut LP Inside Voice, via Secretly Canadian, the session musician makes a move to center stage…well, sort of.
I arrived at the Great Scott during opener Peter Wise’s set, the audience mulling about, passively listening as the Red Sox game glued eyes directly away from the stage. The songs were simple and sweet, but not for me. Wise was set up awkwardly, on a chair perched between a drum set and Dosik’s well-traveled Fender Rhodes. Before I knew it, Wise was up and out and the crowd had begun to funnel near the stage.
As the lights dimmed, Joey Dosik arrived on stage followed by his backing band, forming an ensemble-esque circle, complete with an auxiliary percussionist. With Dosik off to the side, the group descended into a free-form, saxophone-led motif, building up tension in a room too dark to photograph. The loose, improvised opener set a relaxed tone for the set, making sure to direct importance to musical substance above all else.
After a slowed rendition of “Inside Voice”, Dosik and co. blew through the debut, hammering out tight and funked up versions of “Past the Point” and “Get It Right”, featuring Dosik on lead guitar for “Competitive Streak”, with impressive ability (though I found the song itself a bit dead from the lack of electric piano to mix all textures well). An a cappella cover of Bill Withers’ “Stories” left the crowd in a deafening silence, barring his voice “without the microphone”, as he wryly acknowledged the cliched decision. Ramping the energy back up, the band hit the ground with his hits, including a five-minute “Game Winner” tag in which he sang the tale of the rich Celtics/Lakers rivalry to celebrate his first show in Boston.
After “Running Away”, Dosik proclaimed he was going to play a few more, trying out something “new”. Murmurs from those near the front were cut off suddenly, as signature conga beat from Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” developed into a full arrangement. The band proceeded to masterfully execute a medley from Gaye’s 1970 classic, nailing an esoteric “Flyin’ High”, before pivoting into “Mercy Mercy Me” to finish off the night. In astounding fashion, Dosik managed to deliver not only his own release but one of an album I never imagined hearing live. Dosik and backing band did Gaye justice, holding down the fort for a night chock full of highlights. I walked away that night calculating the set among some of the better concerts I’ve had the privilege of attending, and I do believe it will stay that way.