Live: Dr. Dog at Culture Room, April 15
With Floating Action
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Friday, April 15, 2011
Better than: Asking for an extension on your taxes.
It could be a new batch of stimulants, a sudden rush of endorphins, or a compelling late-night engagement that was running through Dr. Dog's mind during Friday's Culture Room performance, but the result was swift -- and mostly satisfying.
At some point, a voracious touring schedule of the Philadelphia psych-rock collective -- currently six strong -- has to make certain songs less appealing to put into a set. As bassist Toby Leaman told County Grind recently, some songs turn into little old bastards no one wants to play anymore. Thus, three-quarters of the night's songs were from the band's last two albums, 2010's Shame, Shame, and Fate from 2008.
From the moment Dr. Dog walked out to Bob Dylan's "Wigwam," the colorfully dressed fellas with only 2/6 wearing sunglasses had their foot on the gas and notched 20 songs in about 80 minutes. Every sip of beer was strategically placed, every guitar tuning was done without fanfare, and banter was sparse. As a result, it was a room completely devoid of obnoxious camera viewfinders. It seemed like no one even had time to think about taking photos of the stained-glass windows set up behind them onstage.
Two of the best songs to come out of the songwriting partnership formed by bassist Toby Leaman (center stage) and lead guitarist Scott McMicken (hiding behind his glasses and stocking cap at stage left) figured in early with "The Ark" and "The Breeze." The former's beastly, scary George Harrison-style riffage is the polar opposite of the sweetness emanating from the latter.
Unfortunately, the dramatic shifts that made many a Dr. Dog show such jaunty affairs are lost in the band's latest album. Not taking anything away from new delights like instant sing-along "Shadow People" or "Unbearable Why" and its money solo, but it seems like a certain type of song with any amount of space between notes has effectively been killed at this point.
Starting the encore section with the robust Architecture in Helsinki cover "Heart It Races" was probably the most accurate appraisal of the night as a whole. Things never slowed or faltered. Sometimes, though, spacing out the songs with a few more lazy moments in between would have made the band's precision playing on each song stand out more. Instead, many of the numbers just sped along together.
The crowd: A liquor-lubricated group of megafans singing along to every word.
Random detail: Everything was so in sync that a tiny unpleasant chirp from the mic during "Shadow People" earned a hefty scowl from Leaman.
Personal bias: There's no possible way to avoid tiny nitpicking with an act I've seen play live more than a dozen times.
The Way the Lazy Do
Take Me Into Town
I Only Wear Blue
The Old Days
The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer
Heart It Races (Architecture in Helsinki cover)
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
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