Dr. Dog Warehouse Live February 20, 2013
A revival happened Thursday night, or a reawakening for some. I'm not sure if it was just this specific stop on the tour -- whether it was the people involved, both crowd and crew, or where Dr. Dog is as a band right now, but something spiritual happened within the four walls of Warehouse Live. It could have been the participation and respect by the random passerby, or the synthetic catharsis wavering about the room, but something about this performance was a bit above and beyond than the rest.
Dr. Dog have always been known for their ability to own whatever stage they set foot on. Whether it be a 15-minute in-store or a two-hour bonanza, they've never failed to bring their all to show after show. They've always appreciated stopping in Houston, but Thursday might have surpassed any of their past performances here.
Seeing a show at a venue two nights in a row will certainly give you perspective about a band, or both bands rather. After Neutral Milk Hotel folked the hell out the crowd the night prior, it was interesting to walk into a concert with a bit more spunk -- or piss and vinegar as my Grandma used to say. While Wednesday's show was pretty damn good, this one was the one.
And for those about to chastise my music taste because I liked Dr. Dog better than Neutral Milk Hotel, what I like is what I like. Neph wrote a great review about that show that you can check out if you're done here. If not, let's get juicy.
With a stage setup straight out of an '80s high-school talent show, including a drive-in movie sign declaring "Special Greetings from Dr. Dog," the Philadelphia sextet got down to business right out of the gate. They have a huge catalog of songs to choose from these days, so this particular evening wasn't just about the standard hits set. The set list seemed much more calculated; actually, for the first time in a while, it varied considerably from previous shows.
Come to think of it, the band might be in somewhat of a nostalgic stage in its career. Their newest record, 2013's B-Room, seems to have sparked an interest in their past among members. Maybe it's the record's throwback sound that fits much closer to their earlier material than it does recent more polished efforts such as Fate, Shame Shame or Be The Void. But judging by Thursday's set, something has thrown Dr. Dog back into their deeper cuts, allowing for a most atypical show from the road-wary rockers.
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Save for 2005's Easy Beat, every single LP was represented throughout the evening, even including 2002 debut Toothbrush with a psychedelic take on the rarely-played "Say Ahhh." We All Belong was also touched on with "Ain't It Strange," one of their best-written love songs that includes some deliciously satisfying drum breakdowns easily executed by former Adrien Belew drummer, and monster semi-recent addition to the band, Eric Slick.
It was the songs that you don't expect to do it for you, like "Heavy Light" from Be The Void, that were the night's real burners. The breakdown and build-up in the middle could easily equate to some of your best DJs' spinning these days. At the same time, as was best exemplified by the new track "Too Weak to Ramble," they could easily be the next Grateful Dead. One of the newer guys to the band, multi-instrumentalist Dimitri Manos, was even rocking his best Steal Your Face shirt throughout the set.
But it wasn't just the songs that brought about the aforementioned revival. A whole new clan of Dr. Dog fans were bred last night, which was evident by the amount of braces in the front row that remained until the bitter end, which was much closer to the witching hour than most of their parents anxiously waiting in their cars had bargained for. That was the revival. The reawakening was the band's decision to dive into their past while exploring their future. The new with the old. The gentrification of Dr. Dog.
It was a well needed jump backwards to make everything sound that much better in the forward. I think this tour might be the one to see them on if you're going to make it out to any. Their new record has aged just enough for them to sound comfortable with the new songs live, which was evident during last night's performance. But it's also aged just enough for them to explore their past as well. With a perfect mix of both, this performance was one for the ages.
Personal Bias: I think you can tell my stance.
Overheard In the Crowd "I feel like Busta Rhymes when he cut his hair."
The Crowd: The young, spry ones remained at the front bouncing around to "The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer" and Architecture In Helsinki cover "Heart It Races," while us older folks bobbed our heads towards the back during slower jams like "The Beach" and "Jackie Wants a Black Eye."
Random Notebook Dump: Why do people like to crowd-surf? Is there some kind of bungee-jumping, skydiving, roller-coaster type of high you get from it? Or are said surfers just starved for attention? Not sure, but it's annoying.
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