Review & Photos | Dr. Dog | New York City
Words by: Jeffrey Greenblatt
Dr. Dog :: 9.3.13 :: Mercury Lounge :: New York, NYAndrew Blackstein’s Photos followed by Jeffrey’s review…
The day after Labor Day is unequivocally a melancholy one, as it signifies the unofficial end of summer. No matter how old you get, there is something deeply ingrained in our subconscious that the care-free feeling of the warmer months are over and now it’s time to get back to the drudgery of the real world. On Tuesday night, Dr. Dog hit the collective pause button on the end of summer, as the Philadelphia-based band played a special one-off show at the intimate Mercury Lounge on the edge of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The band’s last-minute, late-night show instantly sold out and served not only as a warmup for their upcoming fall run, which includes a string of high-profile dates opening for The Lumineers, but a chance for Dr. Dog to return to a room that they have long since outgrown.
With doors scheduled to open at 10:30 p.m., the 250-capacity space quickly filled with eager fans ready to forget that this was going to be a late one for a school-night, and embrace Dr. Dog’s feel-good brand of psychedelic-pop. Hitting the stage at roughly 11:15, the band opened with “Heavy Light,” a song that’s right in the proverbial sweet spot of what they do best -purposely bouncy, acid-drenched garage pop, with sublimely executed sun-drenched Beach Boys harmonies that build to a crescendo of oohs and ahhs. Over roughly the next two hours bassist Toby Leaman and guitarist Scott McMicken democratically swapped lead singing duties, mixing songs mostly from their last three studio efforts – Be The Void, Shame, Shame and Fate. Much like Garcia and Weir, the duo showcased their ying and yang singing styles – impassioned gruff, vocal-chord crushing sounds from Leaman set against McMicken’s weirdly and wildly endearing, tender nasally tones.
After opening with a run of familiar tunes, Dr. Dog showcased the first of a handful of new songs from their upcoming release, B-Room, which hits stores on October 1, with the wonderfully retro ballad “The Truth.” Later in the set, the six-piece act used the opportunity to give “Broken Heart” its inaugural live test drive. Prior to debuting the song, Leaman and McMicken swapped instruments and places on stage, with Leaman declaring that he had not yet mastered playing the bass and singing the David Bowie-inspired disco-folk tune yet, but promised he would have it down before they headed out on the road.
With the clock stretching well past the 12:30 mark, the band closed their set with a burner of a take on the Be The Void track “Lonesome.” Leaman channeled the ghost of the late Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, taking everyone at the Merc to church by delivering the song’s chorus repeatedly as he made his way through the crowd and backstage, with the rest of the band following shortly thereafter. While that could have easily ended the night, the still mostly full room urged the band to take the stage one more time with repeated chants of “Dr. Dog!” and “One More Song!” Not to disappoint, the band returned for an extended encore on this special night that included fan favorites “How Long Must I Wait,” “Jackie Wants A Black Eye,” “The Rabbit The Bat & The Reindeer” and “Die Die Die” – along with the promise of seeing everyone again real soon.