Dr. Dog just released a live record, Live at the Flamingo Hotel, full of their greatest hits, so why didn’t they just release a greatest hits record? Probably because once you see Dr. Dog live, you understand the value and importance of live performance. Most indie music fans have probably heard their name floating around- more than a couple times I’ve heard the response- “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of HIM but haven’t actually heard HIS music.” Firstly, there’s no him, it’s a collective ensemble of six awesome musicians who all just fucking own their craft, Toby Leaman (bass), Scott McMicken (lead guitar), Frank McElroy (rhythm guitar) Zach Miller (Keys), Eric Slick (Drums), and Dimitri Manos (everything). Not since the Beatles has their been a band of this magnitude that has multiple talented songwriters who write brilliant lyrics and unpredictable song structures. The one glaring difference might be that this band hasn’t let their egos get in the way of their relationship.
The first time I saw them was at the Independent like six years ago. They barely fit on the stage, but they were still more energetic and passionate than some three piece bands I’ve seen, and they rocked the venue like a fucking Led Zeppelin hurricane. They were pretty chatty with the crowd, accepting requests and responding to harmless banter. But the Indy is an intimate venue, there were probably no more than four hundred people, if that. The second time I saw them they played at the Warfield for Noise Pop. They were even louder and rocked even harder to a sold out crowd. I walked out the venue half deaf and still bobbing my head to their catchy tunes. It reminded me what it would be like to see the Rolling Stones back in the 70’s at full throttle. These guys seemed to be on a mission to bring back Rock N’ Roll, and not just the musical aspects, but the attitude.
Their performance at the sold out Fox Theater on February 12th didn’t fall short of my expectations. Not that I really have expectations, I just automatically know it’s gonna be a fucking kick ass time. These guys seem to stay true to their roots. They might pump out albums every year and half, but they’re legitimately good albums, and never have I seen them where they just play their “new” album and abandon old songs. They have so many quality songs that it’s almost impossible to hear all the tunes you want in one set. They always leave me longing for more in the best way possible. This was my third time seeing them and they still played a couple songs I didn’t recognize right off the bat.
The stage set up was very retro, like a scene from the sixties, paying homage to the historic Flamingo Hotel. On each side of the stage was a fern, possibly mocking the Funny or Die bit “between two ferns,” while a vintage pink backdrop hung from the ceiling. The drummer was on a platform with a semi circular light module behind him, illuminating an illustrated pink flamingo. Dr. Dog started off their set with the tune “These Days” from Be the Void, and didn’t look back. The Pennsylvania rockers played a great mixture of songs from their seven album catalogue. Some of the crowd favorites included “Army of Ancients,” “Lonesome,””Let Go” (one of my personal favorites), a version of “Heavy Light” that included an improvisation jam and drum solo, “Hang On,” “Heart It Races,” and “California” from their 2007 ep Takers and Leavers.
Whenever a band starts to get popular, there’s always going to be disgruntled fans who saw them in small venues ten years ago when no one knew who they were. For the most part, I’m that disgruntled fan. I’d love to see Dr. Dog at the Independent again, but this band deserves the attention. They’ve worked hard for over a decade and genuinely love playing music and I’m grateful to have witnessed their evolution. But they’re the type of band to play a secret show at Bottom of the Hill, or pay tribute to the Band at the Warfield, or play a show in their hometown with the Phillies mascot, the Fanatic, making a surprise cameo. They aren’t doing this for the money or the fame, they’re doing it to be able to sustain and give their fans the true rock n’ roll experience they deserve, no matter what stage they’re on, or venue they’re in.
Army of Ancients
Long Way Down
Turning the Century
How Long Must I Wait
Too Weak To Ramble
I Hope There’s Love
Ain’t It Strange
Be The void
That Old Black Hole
Heart It Races
The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer
Jackie Wants A Black Eye