LIVE: Dr. Dog @ Northern Lights, 3/20/12

Dr. Dog: (L to R) Frank McElroy, Toby Leaman, Scott McMicken

Dr. Dog: (L to R) Frank McElroy, Toby Leaman, Scott McMicken


Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.

A fireplace with fake red glowing embers, Persian rugs, vases of pink flowers and lit stained-glass art were all part of the stage set for Philadelphia indie-rockers Dr. Dog, who recreated a homey living room, of sorts, onstage at Northern Lights.

But if you looked close, there was even more kitsch than you’d find in your average ‘70s ranch: a rubber alligator atop the fireplace, a fuzzy stuffed-animal lion-head perched on a pole, and walls decorated with handwritten band posters, including one for recent Dr. Dog touring mates Purling Hiss.

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The six members of Dr. Dog – guitarist/vocalist Scott McMicken, bassist/vocalist Toby Leaman, guitarist Frank McElroy, keyboardist Zach Miller, drummer Eric Slick and auxiliary member Dmitri Manos – are quirky fellows, you could say, a bit psychedelic, a bit twisted, a bit avant-garde, a bit goofball.

While openers Birdie Busch, a five-piece Philadelphia band, played a more straight-forward but still quite inspired form of indie-Americana (including a great cosmic country cover of Steve Miller’s “Wild Mountain Honey”), Dr. Dog mostly defied categorization.

Rocking shades and pom-pom adorned ski hats, and supporting a new record,” Be the Void,” they had a shambling, shambolic Pavement-esque indie-rock vibe on “Stranger,” a touch of trippy Flaming Lips-like weirdo space-pop on “I Only Wear Blue” and a decidedly non-indie jam-band groove on “The Ark.”

Whatever it was exactly, the crowd loved it, and while oddball lyrics and rousing melodies may be Dr. Dog’s stock-in-trade, their energy level set it all apart: McMicken, Leaman and McElroy moved from one side of the stage to the other like molecules repelling off each other, generating so much of a heated groove that audience members were pogoing along to “The Old Days” by the end.

SECOND OPINIONS:
KC’s review at Keep Albany Boring
Andrew’s photographs at flickr
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Dr. Dog’s raucous performance at Northern Lights on Tuesday night offered up a mixed bag of sorts. Don’t take that the wrong way — nothing the band played ever fell below good, and much of the set ended up being transcendent. But the best moments were probably different for everyone in the packed house, due to the juxtaposition of songs from the band’s two principals, guitarist Scott McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman. The two singer-songwriters have wildly different personalities that truly come into focus in the live setting. The first two songs made this immediately apparent — McMicken’s ‘That Old Black Hole’ started things off with his sunny California pop vibe (although the band is from Philadelphia), and Leaman answered back with a thundering performance of ‘Stranger,’ his much rawer vocal delivery conveying the song’s dark twists.”

DR. DOG SET LIST
That Old Black Hole
Stranger
The Breeze
The Ark
Do the Trick
Lonesome
Shadow People
Hang On
I Only Wear Blue
Someday
The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer
These Days
Heavy Light
The Beach
Over Here, Over There
Shame, Shame
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
ENCORES
County Line
Vampire
The Old Days
Heart It Races (Architecture in Helsinki)

(L to R) Toby Leaman, Scott McMicken, Eric Slick

(L to R) Toby Leaman, Scott McMicken, Eric Slick

(L to R) Frank McElroy, Toby Leaman, Zach Miller

(L to R) Frank McElroy, Toby Leaman, Zach Miller

Birdie Busch

Birdie Busch

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