CONCERT RECAP: Dr. Dog @ Tipitina’s, New Orleans, LA 11/15/12

is one of the best live bands touring today.  I can say this with full confidence after witnessing two top notch shows this past week – Saturday on the beach in Gulfport at The Sun and Sand Music Festival and Tuesday at Tipitina’s.  Their set at the poorly attended Sun and Sand Fest was explosive (and certainly made some new fans of the middle aged crowd who was mostly there for Gregg Allman), but the headlining show at Tipitina’s allowed them the time and space to delve deeper into their extensive catalog and showcase the band’s live muscle.  From start to finish, the Philadelphia six piece were tight and unpredictable as they dipped into dark jams and euphoric choruses during the career-spanning set.

On most Dr. Dog records, the band croons in beautiful harmony over a jangle of piano, guitar, drums, and bass to create a sound that is simultaneously timeless and distinctly modern.  On stage the band cranks it up to 11 and turns the introspective studio songs into loud, rhythm-driven monsters.  Sharing lead vocal and songwriting duties, guitarist Scott McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman trade off about every other song to keep the songs varied and unexpected.  Each of these guys has the talent to lead his own band, but it’s this combination of two distinct songwriting voices that makes Dr. Dog shine.

 

Every song of the set kept the bodies moving both onstage and off.  “Heavy Light” featured an extended jam in the middle of the song, including traces of “Revolution #9” thanks to some eerie vocal samples, before launching back into the joyous refrain of “I wish I gave only love or could feel it when I did.”  On “The Beach,” Toby Leaman abandoned his bass duties and instead tramped around the stage to set the apocalyptic tone, while Scott McMicken opted for a more subdued performance with an acoustic guitar on “The Breeze” and “Shadow People.”

Watching the band dance and groove in unison at Tip’s made me realize just how indebted this band is to Jim James of My Morning Jacket.  James brought Dr. Dog on  two extensive tours with MMJ from 2004-2005 in which the bands played over 100 shows each year.  I’m sure Dr. Dog picked up a few tricks of the live music trade from MMJ, a band that is widely regarded as one the best live bands out there.  The unexpected fire in Dr. Dog’s performances is what sets them apart from other “indie” bands and drives their rabid fanbase.

The encore was a fan’s dream come true, with three deep cuts reworked and updated for the live setting.  “Worst Trip” still rocks hard, while the quietly dismal “Die Die Die” made a surprise appearance that featured the whole band.  Fittingly, the band closed with the song that first earned them attention in New Orleans, “Oh No.”  As the band churned through the formerly lo-fi song, everyone in attendance howled and danced to one of the best kept secrets in modern rock music.

SET LIST:
The Way the Lazy Do
Vampire
Shadow People
Hang On
That Old Black Hole
Stranger
The Breeze
These Days
Heavy Light
The Beach
How Long Must I Wait
Shame, Shame
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Heart It Races
The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer
Lonesome

Encore:
Worst Trip
Do The Trick
Die Die Die
Oh No

November 15, 2012 |  by  |  Editor's Favorites, Photos, Reviews
About the author

A recent transplant to New Orleans, Shane spends his free time attending as many live events of the musical variety as he possibly can. From brass bands to rock shows, you can usually find him as close to the stage as possible swaying to the beat and sipping an Abita.

 
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