words by Andy Pareti
photos by Randy Cremean
Every single live performance of Dr. Dog has had me come away with a new favorite Dr. Dog song. The band has an uncanny ability to take a song that sounds, maybe, a bit underwhelming the first time you hear it on record, and shock it to fluttering life on the stage. Take that as a compliment or a criticism – it’s probably a bit of both.
Monday night saw the Philly five-piece take a very analogue-centric stage at the Moody Theater for an Austin City Limits taping. The band crowded around a modest mountain of radios, tube televisions, transmitters, gizmos and gadgets that looked like a 1950s electronics store’s liquidation sale. It was an appropriately vintage look for the band.
Musically, Dr. Dog was fantastic as always, plowing through almost twenty cuts of golden age rock and roll and ramshackle soul with the three-headed monster of three-part-harmonies that is Toby Leaman, Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy. The set was surprisingly heavy on older songs, particularly off of the band’s great 2008 album, Fate. They did make sure to toss out a few new songs though, particularly the whimsical “These Days” and the song I referred to in the first paragraph, “Lonesome” (both off of this year’s Be the Void).
While not very subtle, the stage’s decorations were an astute observation about Dr. Dog. The band’s songs, its look, even its very popularity, seem frozen in time. They seem to have the same sized following, the same goofy cheer on stage, the same musical style, that they did ten years ago. In a world where my non-touchscreen iPod is now officially marketed as “Classic”, Dr. Dog remain astoundingly affixed in time, unaffected by innovation. Monday night further solidified their immortality with the taping. Hopefully when our grandkids watch these reruns on their brain-wave-controlled holograms, and they have no idea what those odd, otherworldly boxes are that share the stage with the band, they will still tap their feet to “The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer”, and maybe even sing along.
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