Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dr. Dog @ Greenwich Town Party CT May 24

Toby Leaman & Scott McMicken
Dr. Dog appeared twice at the Greenwich Town Party last Saturday, as the event courted the idea of two stages.  The first one in a parking lot by the water always sells out quickly, so a second stage was created up the road behind the Town Hall (once serving as Greenwich High School, way before I attended the new California style cement campus further up the hill).  Scouring the schedule I noticed that Dr. Dog would be playing a longer set at the new "North" stage anyway, so a last minute plan was easily put into place. I had been wanting to catch this band for a while now, even contemplating a trip to Philadelphia to see Dr. Dog on their home turf.  But here they were in my area, and they rocked it hard for the sparse, mid-afternoon crowd spread out over the plastic-covered grid protecting the field.

The band kicked off with a rollicking tune called "These Days," the exact song that was in my head all day as I looked forward to the concert.  This group is anchored by Toby Leaman (bass) and Scott McMicken (lead guitar), who have been making original music together since middle school.  Dr. Dog songs are at once familiar with the country twang and psych rock roots, but also sweetly straight forward in beckoning new territory.  Lyrics complement this credo for instant sing alongs, for example in "Lonesome," Leaman sings "What does it take to be lonesome -- nothing at all!" Leaman and McMicken trade lead vocals, with Frank McElroy adding a third part on harmonies while playing rhythm guitar. Zach Miller came out from behind the keyboard to gamely strap on a guitar in the middle of the set, as did multi-instrumentalist Dimitri Manos (otherwise in charge of hand percussion, electronics and various effects).  It was clear that the produced songs needed little embellishment in studio, effortlessly recreated on stage with that infectious live vibe that permeates everything Dr. Dog. New songs mixed readily with older tunes, and when an acoustic guitar wouldn't cooperate, McMicken gamely picked up his electric for a solo while making a crack about uncharted waters.

I became a fan of the band back in 2010, captivated by the song "Shadow People" (released as a single with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and a pick on my Winter 2011 New Music Playlist). Then that song some "These Days" was featured on my Early Spring 2012 New Music Playlist, along with "Lonesome" from the 2012 album Be the Void, since I couldn't pick just one! The latest -- and supposedly most collaborative -- album came out last fall, number eight titled B-Room after the group's own recording space, and again another favorite song "The Truth" found its way on another playlist (Fall 2013 New Music Playlist).  I also proudly cited Dr. Dog as a "solid rocker" in my post New Bands To Update Any Musical Collection.

Thanks to the organizers of the Greenwich Town Party for selecting Dr. Dog for this year's lineup, enabling me to check off another band I've been wanting to see for so long.  I even nabbed the set list afterwards, although I'm stumped by the note for FATE? (It's the title of an early album from 2008, so I'm not sure what song!) Check out the video clip from the gig along with the original official one for "That Old Black Hole" to see what I mean about the fine line between studio vs. live versions of Dr. Dog songs, and if you're not a fan already, you have some catching up to do...

With the setlist afterwards

Paul with Town Hall in background

Frank McElroy adds in harmonies
Scott McMicken

These Days
Ain't It Strange
Do the Trick
Too Weak To Ramble
The Truth
FATE -- title of 2008 album but not sure what song?
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Broken Heart
That Old Black Hole
County Line
Shadow People
Heart It Races -- Architecture In Helsinki (cover)
The Way the Lazy Do