Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dr. Dog w/ The Growlers at The Crofoot Ballroom

With their 2008’s Fate in the rear view mirror and Shame, Shame still a few months away, Dr. Dog has been building an impressive catalogue of perfectly pop saavy rock and roll tunes. The five piece from Philadelphia straddled albums and endured the harsh Michigan winter in Pontiac’s Crofoot Ballroom.
Opening the night were The Growlers, a six piece from California, were a pleasant surprise as vocalist Brooks Nielson crooning created a wall of sound as if he was conjuring the ghost of Jim Morrison molesting a guitar made of old surfboards. Neilsen’s vocal bends and pitches blended perfectly with the surf-laden rockabilly behind him for an opening act that was well worth the time.
Shortly after, Dr. Dog took the stage at the roughly 250 person bar with “The Old Days,” to pull the crowd in with the raucous uptempo version as the band slammed into the choruses. The depth and vibrance of the studio wasn’t gone, but sped up and replaced with a raw energy to jump start the crowd. String melodies and other nuances from the studio were filled live throughout the night by both the thrashing dual guitars of Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy, and the spacey keyboard work of Zach Miller. Mixing in almost all the tracks from 2008’s Fate, the band skillfully creates a different, but still sonically lush landscape of the complex album.
Harnessing their vocal depth and variety kept the crowd on their toes as bassist Toby Lehman’s screeching and wildly unrestrained screams provided the perfect compliment for McMicken’s more conventional softer singing. The band also harmonizes vocally, instrumentally and physically incredibly well live, as they jump, twist and bounce in unison to country tinged stomping tunes like “The Pretender.”
Dr. Dog also peppered a few new offerings from April’s upcoming Shame, Shame. “Mirror, Mirror,” the first of the new songs, gave a sign that it would be delightfully more of the same from the Philly five piece, which is not in any way a bad thing. The short barely three minute song, is another perfectly rollicking, bouncy tune to add to the already impressive Dr. Dog catalogue. Other new songs were scattered through the show, with crashing melodies across the set to create an ebb and flow of softer songs before slamming full speed ahead on “My Friend” and the closing “The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer.” Both of which had the band and crowd bouncing the floor like a trampoline. As the band set their equipment down for an encore break McMicken looked around quickly realizing the only for the band to leave was through the shoulder to shoulder crowd at the front of the stage. “Well, let’s just be reasonable about want us to play more songs right?” McMicken said jokingly as the band started again. After the fluttery keyboard laden “Ain’t It Strange,” it was Leaman’s screeches beautifully paired with the harmonizing guitar squeals of “Died In Your Arms,” and the closing thrash of “Oh No.”
It’s easy to forget how badly it sucks to be shoulder to shoulder in a sweaty crowd bouncing the floor of a dingy club. But it’s even easier to remember why anyone would endure these menial inconveniences, to hear musicians pour their souls out into tiny dimly lit shithole bars. That is why it’s a treat to see rock and roll shows and that is what Dr. Dog reminds their audience of each show.

by Pietro C. Truba
originally for Relix Magazine 

No comments:

Post a Comment