Dr. Dog: Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY 8/27/08

Back in July, Dr. Dog was supposed to kick start a world tour at one of the bands favorite venues in New York City.  To quote the band themselves, “You know fate has a funny way of coming around,” and due to bassist/vocalist Toby Leaman’s voice problems the band needed to postpone their two shows in the Big Apple.  Rescheduled for this week, Dr. Dog was determined to make up for the delay. 

Decorating the stage with huge potted plants and flower garlands around the microphones, the band created an overgrown garden on stage, adding to the already down-home-vibe of the music, this theatrical setting transported the audience to a remote forest glade for the performance.

 When the opening “The Way The Lazy Do” eased out with flashing lights, multiple ringing instruments and three part harmony’s, a sense that everything, everywhere, was going to be all right encompassed the room.  The band’s most recent effort and best of their career, Fate, is one of the top releases of the year combining beautiful lyrics with crisp playing and all of that was on display tonight as the band leaned heavily on their new tunes.  “The Old Days” contained some thunderous bass fills while “The Beach” and “The Ark” added ominous haunted house creepiness keeping the set from getting too light and airy. 

The crowd came alive and started gyrating to “Ain’t It Strange” and continued their head bobbing when “Army of Ancients” hit.  The simple sweetness of “The Breeze” was counteracted by the metal-ish fills and stomps during “The Girl.”  The five-piece was incredibly in sync, shown best on the complex “Uncovering The Old,” and their song writing has never been better, but with this level of professionalism it felt as if something was missing. 

The ramshackle, scruffy nature of the band and their performances was always part of the appeal…you felt as if in a moment they could rumble off the tracks or extend a song into a stoned-out haze, making the live set a must see.  They have reached a point where their studio work may be trumping their stage show, which shows tremendous growth in itself for the Doctor’s.  Displaying this new level of professionalism they come out and play as tight as a drum, but I like my canines to be mutts and not necessarily show dogs; however, one can’t complain about the quality on display tonight from this immensely gifted group. 

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