While promoting their eleventh album Critical Equation, Scott McMicken from Dr. Dog said, “I feel like I am in a new band right now”, and that freshness, excitement and energy were all present as the Philly five-piece wrapped up their three night stand at Brooklyn Steel June 21st.
Before the quartet hit, fellow Philadelphia indie rocker Alex G took the stage to spin his lo-fi ear worms to a rapidly filling house. Alexander Giannascoli rose to fame by posting lovely, identifiable songs written predominantly in his dorm/bedroom. The five-piece bands (including cutting violin and bubbling bass) translation of those songs to a large live stage wasn’t particularly smooth on this night. Focusing on Rocket the group ranged from noisy hardcore to awkward folk and lounge based jazz. “Bobby”, “Poisoned Root” and “Guilty” were all respectable but the muted singing and switching of styles kept the group from truly locking in and the sound levels off; the crowd cheered but the results could have been brighter.
On the flipside, Dr. Dog rolled out onto an unadorned stage and ran through a career spanning set with style and confidence. They may have been dourly dressed in overalls, a sweater vest and goofy old-timey farmer’s hat, but the opening “Old Black Hole” was sizzling hot, propelled by Zach Miller’s keys. The group revelled in the bombastic ending of “Shadow People” dominated by Eric Slick’s drums and showed off their elastic folk rock and roll with “Under The Wheels”.
While the newer tunes like “Listening In” were restrained, overall the band was at ease and loose. “The Breeze” showcased the outfits amazing harmonies which fluttered around the cavernous Brooklyn venue before McMicken’s nephew joined the group during their dynamite cover of “Heart It Races”.
The ice-cold grooves and huge drum hits of “How Long Must I Wait?” were fantastic while Toby Leaman’s vocals soared through “Bring My Baby Back” off The Psychedelic Swamp. “Where’d All the Time Go?” swirled as couples in the crowd slow danced before the band inserted some upbeat punk energy for “Army Of The Ancients”.
Set closer “Go Out Fighting” was emotional while “I Only Wear Blue” built the drama, however, the highlight of the night came via the group’s first encore song “Abandoned Mansion” which captured a retro soul groove and a rollicking sense of joy while being accentuated by those ever-present harmonies. The night ended with “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” as the band reminded us that we are truly all in this together and with Dr. Dog reinvigorated that journey becomes brighter by the song.