Dr. Dog | 04.25 | San Francisco

By Team JamBase May 4, 2010 12:42 pm PDT

Words by: Justin Gillett | Images by: Josh Miller

Dr. Dog :: 04.25.10 :: Great American Music Hall :: San Francisco, CA

Dr. Dog :: 04.25 :: S.F.
After releasing six albums over the better part of the past decade, with the most recent being Shame, Shame, the Philadelphia-based quintet Dr. Dog has yet to truly affirm itself as a momentous studio band. All the group’s LPs are mildly respectable, but none of the releases truly capture the band’s live character. The band’s ardent performances highlight each musician’s ability to play off one another and carry out the band’s impressive harmonies.

During the nostalgic indie rock outfit’s recent two-night layover in San Francisco, Dr. Dog was able to sell out both nights at the Great American Music Hall, an admirable feat for any group, considering S.F. is home to a good amount of smug music snobs who consider obscure forms of brash noise to be the apex of musical artistry.

As the dogged musicians took the stage and immediately locked in with one another it was made clear that the deep interplay between the members is the band’s selling point. Vocals were traded between guitarists Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy, as well as bassist Toby Leaman, and the group’s blissed out harmony arrangements sounded strong. The guys don’t necessarily sing extremely similar – Leaman’s raspy howl is a vast departure from McMicken’s mellow croon – but the pairing works and the divergent vocal styles complement each other.

An auxiliary multi-instrumentalist was recently added to the band’s live show, and he would occasionally trigger electronic samples, tap percussion devices, hit triggered drum pads and strum an acoustic guitar. While his presence added small nuanced layers to the band’s already full sound, he seemed little more than a glorified tambourine shaker and didn’t really contribute much to the group’s refined sound.

Playing hollow body guitars through a few vintage sounding effects, both McMicken and McElroy added impressive layers of feedback-fueled noise to the band’s pop-friendly tunes. Though the instrumental sections managed to propel the music, when the group added its characteristic three-part harmonies the music really shined. The teamwork of the guitarists also served to bolster many of the songs, and whenever McMicken or McElroy took a solo it was a joint effort. Both guitarists would read one another and play off each other, creating an awesome amalgamation of sound that further fueled the band’s lush grooves.

When the band left the stage after its 75-minute set, the crowd was still thirsty for more Dog, and the group obliged fans with an impressive five-song encore. Aptly concluding the show with “California” off the 2006 Takers and Leavers EP, Dr. Dog managed to, again, prove its worth as a live band and leave a lasting impression in the minds of all in attendance.

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