Student-formed Yard Dogs tour South, gain momentum

Julia Engel, Staff Reporter

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Yard Dogs has been overrunning the southern part of the country as of late —and it’s no wonder why. With recent performances at Tipitina’s and Black Label Icehouse, an upcoming show at Gasa Gasa on March 31 and a performance in Athens, Georgia in the near future, Yard Dogs has been turning heads and making hips sway with surprising force the past few months.

The band consists of bassist Alex Glick, vocalist and guitarist Daniel Feinberg, lead vocalist and guitarist Max Boydston, all Tulane seniors, and drummer Patrick Kelleher, a Loyola senior. Feinberg and Boydston are childhood friends from Atlanta who have been experimenting with music together since an early age; the two decided to create an album together in 2014 and ideas to start doing live performances soon ensued.

“Me and Daniel decided to make an album just the two of us and then were like, ‘Oh, we’d love to play shows, we should put a band together,'” Boydston said. “So we got Glick and another random friend from Atlanta and got a show together.”

Boydston originally attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, while Feinberg and Glick became roommates at Tulane. Having a history as a bassist, Boydston and Feinberg naturally enlisted Glick, a fellow Atlantian, into the group. Yard Dogs played its first shows with Boydston’s college roommate and friend Yitzi Peetluck. As Yard Dogs grew in popularity and begun to do more shows, Boydston eventually made the decision to pack up and leave Boston to finish his last semester at Tulane, so as to be closer to the band.

The group came upon drummer Patrick Kelleher while performing at a house party. While Kelleher played a completely different sound than the band’s aesthetic, Boydston says the band was instantly able to tell he’d be a good fit for Yard Dogs.

“I think we sound like post ’90s pop-rock ‘n’ roll,” Boydston said. “We just like to write songs with good catchy lyrics and guitar riffs.”

“There’s definitely some Southern rock aspect, at least when it comes down to the solos,” Glick said.

The band noted that its two major influences are The Whigs and My Morning Jacket, the latter of which will be a headliner at this year’s Jazz and Heritage Festival.

“Those definitely seep into our music and our songwriting,” Boydston said. “So [our music is] Southern but modern Southern.”

Yard Dogs has toured in New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham, with Athens soon to be added to the list — and even has had the opportunity to open for its musical idol The Whigs. Touring offers Yard Dog a chance to vary its setlist and try new things on stage.

“We’re playing new songs — and that’s just really fun. We’d been playing a lot of the same stuff [before]” Glick said.

Yard Dogs’ lineup usually consists of mostly original tunes with a sprinkle of covers mixed in — the band favors tracks by The Allman Brothers Band and featured a David Bowie cover at its Black Label Icehouse performance, Glick said.

“We’ve been working on new stuff — new covers and new original stuff,” Boydston said.

During its Saturday show at Black Label Icehouse, Yard Dogs demonstrated its great chemistry through energetic guitar lines and dance-inducing drumming, which had the crowd grooving the whole set. The sound mixed well with the grungy and minimalistic space of the venue; with the smell of barbeque and draft beer in the air, Yard Dogs’ tunes emanated over its audience in a moody, scratchy waft. Instead of dragging out the set, the band kept it short and sweet, with listeners yearning for more.

Yard Dogs has been relatively proactive when it comes to making its presence known and getting gigs.

“We really have to take the initiative with it,” Boydston said. “Mostly we just wanna play a show and so we go to the venue and say hey, us and this other band want to play a show. And so one will headline and one will open, and we usually add a third band. But when we open it’s half-and-half — sometimes they ask us and sometimes we’ll just see there’s a show with no opener and be like ‘hey, you want an opener?'”

Glick also notes that Yard Dogs has begun to form useful relationships with other local groups. 

“Whenever one of us gets a show we’ll have someone else to tag along with us,” Glick said. “And the venues want to hear that.” 

Despite the impending graduation, and therefore possible departure, of band members, Yard Dogs is having fun with its creative songwriting and live performances.

“It’s kind of like an open slate,” Glick said. “We all love playing our instruments so we have fun making it sound good.” 

With undeniable talent, more shows and more tracks are sure to be in the group’s future.