By Evan Zigmond
I discovered Joey Dosik in 2016, in the midst of an obsessive Vulfpeck listening binge. From the very first listen, I deeply appreciated Dosik’s songwriting ability, his tasteful instrumentation choices, and his soothing voice. Two years later, at Great Scott in Allston, I finally had the chance to see him in the headlining spot, and I left with a deeper admiration for both the music and the man behind it.
I was confident going into the show that Dosik had selected the ideal venue for his music. Dosik’s soft sonic signature would find a nice home in the cozy Lower Allston venue. I got there at 8:35, only a few minutes after doors, and there was already a line out the front of the dive bar. Audience members would continue showing up throughout the evening, packing tightly into Great Scott. It was definitely the largest audience I had ever seen in the venue, a testament to Dosik’s dedicated fanbase.
Peter Wise, Dosik’s opening act, went on first. Wise is a Boston-born singer-songwriter currently living in Brooklyn. He came onstage alone, serenading the audience with pop-rock tunes for 45 minutes or so before Joey Dosik took the stage to the din of his fans.
With a setlist largely drawn from his new album Inside Voice, Dosik delivered dulcet tones on his electric piano and sang beautifully about his usual trifecta of topics: love, breakups, and basketball. He had with him a talented band, who augmented Joey’s sweet sound and provided the groove over which Joey would sing his ballads. All of the musicians onstage were talented, but the drum set player in particular blew me away. James Williams laid down insanely intricate grooves throughout the set. His tambourine work was frankly nuts: I had never heard such strong tambourine rolls in my life. His limb independence was bonkers: at one point, he was playing fills in his left hand and hitting the crash cymbal using a tambourine in his right hand. Dosik worked well over these grooves, his voice soaring high above the echo of his bandmates. Over the course of the night, he delivered all the beloved hits, such as the provocative “Inside Voice,” the introspective “Running Away,” and the instant classic “Don’t Want It To Be Over.”
While the musicianship was stellar, what really wowed me was the degree of intimacy at the show. Early on in the set, Dosik sang his gospel-flavored tune “Stories” completely a capella. He stunned the audience into silence with his expert phrasing and confident crooning, punctuated by impactful pauses. That tune garnered the second loudest period of applause, topped only by his largest hit, “Game Winner.” At a later point in the show, he stopped the band and, for lack of a better phrase, told a musical story. Ever the basketball fan, Dosik spoke of his childhood hatred for the Boston Celtics. His hatred later turned to admiration in 2002, when Celtics superstar Larry Bird spoke eloquently at Magic Johnson’s induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Hearing this entire monologue about how these basketball storylines personally affected Dosik, I felt as if he came to Boston just to say these things to me. The information was so detailed, the story so heartfelt that I forgot he was a performer in that moment. In that moment, Dosik was merely a lover of basketball, sharing a personal story with a group of Bostonians on a cold Sunday night. I left that show with a better understanding of Joey Dosik as a person, and I urge anyone who has the opportunity to go see the love and care he puts into his live performances.