February 4th, 2010
   

 

Dr. Dog
When: February 4th, 2010
Where: Turner Hall, Milwaukee, WI
Length: 1 Hour

Reviewed By:
Rating:
4 Volts

 

Dr. Dog will be releasing their new album Shame, Shame on April 6th.
Visit their website for more info at http://www.drdogmusic.com/

 

Dr. Dog, the Philadelphia based indie rock band, visited Milwaukee’s Turner Hall for their first stop ever in the Brew City this past Thursday, the fourth of February.  For this tour, the band is promoting the release of their latest album, Shame, Shame.  The five-member band consists of Toby Leaman (bass), Scott McMicken (lead guitar), Frank McElroy (rhythm guitar), Zach Miller (keyboard), and Eric Slick (drums).

Any time a music act comes through the historic Turner Hall or Pabst Theater and is billed as a “Ten Buck Show,” it should immediately catch interest.   Many times these bands are new and/or upcoming on the national scene and are trying to build a larger fan base in the U.S.  More often than not, you can catch an excellent show for a great price.  This seemed to be the case for Dr. Dog, and I certainly think the campaign was a successful one.  Although the band isn’t new, they are a relatively undiscovered talent.

After climbing up the ancient wooden stairs to get from the ground floor bar up to the ballroom, I was pleasantly surprised to walk through the double-door entrance and find the Turner Hall Ballroom chock-full of groovy Milwaukeeans.  This was a large crowd with a positive energy that I hoped the band could match.

The easy rocking quintet steadily entered stage left at 9:42pm sharp.  As soon as middle front man Toby Leaman’s fingers were able to grab his pick and touch it to his bass guitar strings, the music started.  Dr. Dog wasted no time and rarely spoke during the set, giving the crowd the feeling that they wanted to share their music efficiently, letting their songs be the focus of their stop in the Brew City.

They opened the night with “Worst Trip,” an interesting choice, leaving the hesitant crowd wondering if the current tour stop was less than ideal.  If it weren’t for the playful baseline of Leaman, the punchy, high note intro to this song would fit nicely in the “shower scene” from the movie Psycho.  “Is this the worst trip you have ever been on?”  The chorus to the song asks, to which Leaman again playfully responds, “Well I thought you’d kind of like it, it’s awfully dark and quiet here,” in front of a harmonious back-drop of “Do-Do-Do’s,” and “Ahhhhh’s,” belted out by McMicken, McElroy, Miller, and Slick.  This turned out to be an excellent introduction to the crowd. It said, “Hello Milwaukee, we are Dr. Dog and we are mysterious.”

The fun, energetic, trippy mood continued throughout the night.  “The Breeze,” off the album Fate, once again showcased Dr. Dog’s cascading vocal waterfalls, reminiscent of the Beach Boys.  “Do you like things the way they seem/ or are you looking behind the seams?”  They ask, “Are there dark parts to your mind?  Hidden secrets, left behind?”

Yes, I cannot help but compare their vocals to the Beach Boys, much like everyone else who has listened to them, but what makes Dr. Dog more than a neo-pop rock band is lyrics like these.  They successfully mix bright, sunny vocals with shadowy, curious lyrics.  This gives them a familiar, nostalgic sound while still maintaining a unique and interesting feel of their own.  Dr. Dog provides the Easy Beat, good feeling groove without losing thought provoking soul.  It’s a fresh and satisfying mix.

“Army of Ancients,” marked an energetic highlight as the band’s building harmonies climaxed to Leaman crying out “I don’t want to wake up/I don’t want to move/I’ll skip the sermon and stick to the booze!”  The Milwaukee crowd cheered and raised their three-dollar Pabst Blue Ribbons as the collective conscience agreed that this band fit right in with their blue-collar town. 

Listening to the studio recordings of Dr. Dog gave me the impression this would be a fairly “chill” show.  I imagined kicking back, occasionally nodding my head and tapping my toes while sharing some laughs with a friend.  In reality, Dr. Dog brought enthusiasm unmatched by many bands I have seen perform recently.  At one point I noticed some body passing going on toward the front of the crowd.  The band was hyped, and in return, the crowd grew electrified.  At points it was difficult to tell who was influencing who.

Dr. Dog not only matched the crowd’s initial energy that I felt when entering the ballroom, they surpassed it.  Although I did do a lot of head nodding and toe tapping, I rarely had the time to joke around with my friend.  Dr. Dog commanded attention with a powerful stage presence, and I was happy to oblige.
 


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