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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Antics Save the Day for Dog's Eye View

July 04, 1996|STEVE HOCHMAN

Peter Stuart--who is for all intents and purposes the band Dog's Eye View--said during the group's show on Tuesday at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre that he fears he'll someday be forced to listen to all the "stupid things" he says between songs.

He should be so lucky.

Between songs, the young New Yorker flashed a first-class wit, with quick quips balancing self-effacing cynicism with real heart--the essence of a Gen X soul. Tuesday he engaged in running commentary on, among other things, the swirly patterns shaved in his hair ("I want a head like a cinnamon roll," he sang in a spontaneous Neil Young parody) and on John Denver, who was playing across the freeway at the Hollywood Bowl. An easy target, sure, but Stuart made it fresh.

If only his music were so distinctive. His gift for fluid melodies and self-reflexive poetry are hampered by the fact that we've heard this all before--a characteristic shared by the opening band, the Wallflowers.

In Stuart's case, the songs too often recalled Counting Crows and Hootie & the Blowfish, which themselves are distillations of such familiar figures as Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. His three band members gave such songs as the adult-alternative hit "Everything Falls Apart" occasional punch. But only Stuart's earnestness, energy and extra-musical antics, including a spur-of-the-moment stroll through the audience for an unamplified solo number, saved the day.

The Wallflowers don't have anything extra-musical going for them, offering little in the way of stage presence. While it's hard to begrudge leader Jakob Dylan his vocal and musical similarities to his dad Bob--right down to Rami Jaffee's swirling Hammond organ--it's also hard not to feel that with two albums under his belt, it's time for him to find a way to make the music his own, as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty did for their generation.

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