“We’re the Lost Dog Street Band and it’s a slow Wednesday night but whether we are playing for a hundred people or a thousand people the mission is the same; we’re gonna get emotional.” lead singer Benjamin Tod stated before playing one note of his set in Lawrence, KS on a unseasonably cool August night. Ashley and Benjamin would detail their sorted history with the town later in the night with tales of busking on the streets and hitchhiking though.
They have earned more esteem and clout in the town now, there is no need to play on street corners anymore as a sorted group of varying people were happy to see the band play during this mid-week night. Some people looked like they came straight off the farm, melanoma be damned with burnt skin and towing a powerful cloud of body odor while others looked as if they checked out of a local keg party to stop by. A healthy mix of muddy work boots and Converse All-Stars were all happy to take in the deeply personal set by the storied troubadours. Benjamin Tod’s appearance is less sorted, his distinct neck tattoos almost touch his chin and a buck knife hangs from his belt and you can probably fill in the rest of the visual yourself.
Fellow hard luck songwriter Matt Heckler would open the show appropriately and belt out a set that would be almost as long as the headliner’s on the night. His powerful voice dominated the crowd and controlled just as much attention as Lost Dog would later int he evening. His mixture of banjo and fiddle accompaniment just accented his songs that almost always built to an emphatic peak. He would sing his own stories of addiction and alcoholism as Tod would later. He also mixed in a lively cover of Utah Phillips’ “Rock Salt & Nails.”
They belted out “To Heaven From Here” to start off their latest and probably best album “Weight of a Trigger” and followed it appropriately with a Townes Van Zandt cover. As far a tempo goes, the show would peak with the opening song. The set would get decidedly more intense and quiet for the most part afterward other than a rousing cover of Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band’s “The Mountain.” Emphatic sing alongs occurred on the band’s original songs “Terrible & True” and later “September Doves” right before the encore break.
The encore performance of “I Will Rise” from Tod’s solo album of the same name is noteworthy because it was a true encore. The stage lights came up and the house music was cranked after the band’s short 10 song set. A “one more song” chant by the hungry crowd coaxed the band to re-rush the stage and perform one last number that almost certainly wouldn’t have been performed if the crowd wouldn’t have insisted.
The Lost Dog Street Band setlist from The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS 8/14/19
To Heaven From Here
Nothin’ (Townes Van Zandt cover)
Terrible & True
The Mountain (Steve Earle and The Del McCoury Band cover)
The War Inside Me
I Will Rise