Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by Craig Metz
New York City — When it’s 60 degrees out on a Friday in February, you know the night is off to a good start. As New York enjoyed a brief reprieve from an unforgiving winter, Philly indie rockers Dr. Dog returned to their ‘second home’ to match that warmth indoors.
The stage was adorned in rainbow hued stained glass panels that towered above the band’s gear; a closer look revealed smaller multi-colored accents on the amps and kick drum. There was a radiant vibe at Terminal 5, as fans eagerly awaited a dose of retro rock from the good Dr.
Often compared to The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Band, Dr. Dog spins vintage rock elements into a signature sound all their own. And much like their influencers, what makes Dr. Dog so unique is that there is no obvious front-man to fawn over. Guitarist Scott McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman share lead vocal duties, creating harmonies that a newly enlightened hippie next to me likened to “Brian Wilson having throat sex with Rod Stewart.”
On this night, Leaman lead the opening song ‘Stranger’ before McMicken took the wheel for ‘I Only Wear Blue,’ both off the 2010 LP Shame, Shame. When in a groove, the co-leaders convey their own stage presence and style – Leaman tends to shuffle his feet in place a la Dave Matthews, while McMicken bounces up and down to the beat like a loose spring.
Soon the band broke out, in succession, the first three tracks off their incredible 2008 LP Fate. Through no fault of their own, it became strikingly apparent that the sub-par acoustics at Terminal 5 could not accommodate the rich intricacies of ‘The Breeze, ”Hang On’, and ‘The Old Days’. The band made up for it in energy and heart, but as for resonance, the wall of sound was missing a few bricks. You are better off listening to a band like Dr. Dog on vinyl than seeing them at this venue.
Nevertheless, Dr. Dog forged on with a few more tracks off Shame Shame, including ‘Someday’ and McMicken’s ode to West Philly, ‘Shadow People.’ In November the five-piece released a special deluxe edition of Shame, Shame featuring four new songs, and New Yorkers got their first live taste of ‘Nobody Knows Who You Are’ at this show. Shame, Shame 2.0 can be yours either digitally or on a 7” record at merch tables throughout this tour.
Despite an imperfect performance space, Dr. Dog still left the crowd in high spirits with an encore of ‘Jackie Wants a Black Eye’. Maybe it was their poof-ball hats, or the hipsters on the dance floor in their funny clothes, but whatever the reason, Dr. Dog’s show gave everyone at Terminal 5 something to smile about.
TheWaster.com | New York City