Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by David Turcotte
Never thought we’d see so many crowd-surfers at a Dr. Dog show, but it’s official: the teenagers have caught on to Philly’s best kept secret. In support of their latest LP Be the Void, the band ushered in a new generation of fans with a sold-out gig at New York City’s Terminal 5.
Securing a good spot at a sold-out show can be a ongoing struggle, especially at ‘all ages’ shows. But for hard-working members of the press like yours truly, there is a paradise way up above. And it’s called the VIP balcony. From the comfort and safety of your very own bar-stool, you can watch Purling Hiss and Dr. Dog perform without any spilled beer, stomped toes, or tall dudes blocking your precious view.
It had been a big month for Purling Hiss, who played a short set in support of their Philadelphia brothers. Just a week since they joined the Third Man Records showcase at SXSW, this trio brought their jean jackets to the mean streets of Manhattan. With long hair, Slash-inspired guitar riffs, and brooding songs like ‘Voices’, Purling Hiss showed all the makings for rock n roll glory.
The stained glass backdrop from Dr. Dog’s 2011 tour gave way to a new stage set-up: a near replica of a living room, complete with lamps, a fireplace, and lion heads on the wall. A curtain full of tour posters hung behind their stacks of gear – one gave a shout out to Purling Hiss, another proclaimed ‘Warrior Man Rules!’. A door marked ‘2131’ accented the side of the stage, and at 10PM the guys from Dr. Dog crossed the threshold to open their headlining set with ‘Lonesome’ and ‘Old Black Hole’ from the indie rockers’ seventh and latest album.
Be the Void sees Dr. Dog beginning to evolve its richly layered wall of sound. Taking a page or two from Marco Benevento’s playbook, some of the new songs feature glitchy, circuit bent instruments that bring the good Doctor’s vintage style a little closer to the 21st century. At T5 this was translated via some pedal pushing, knob twisting, and general fuzz jockeying. The circuit-bent gadgetry carried over to older material too, like during the lead-in on ‘Worst Trip’ off 2007’s We All Belong.
Dr. Dog knows its audience, and rather than blast the new material full force, their performance balanced Be the Void with the bulk of their discography. Tracks from Fate (‘Hang On’, ‘The Beach’) and Shame, Shame (‘I Only Wear Blue’, ‘Jackie Wants a Black Eye’) made appearances, as well as a very deep cut in the acoustic ‘County Line’ from 2002’s Toothbrush.
When another new tune, ‘Heavy Light’ showed up in the set, it became apparent how perfectly the song title sums up Dr. Dog’s musical personality. The lo-fi hum lifts your spirits without being poppy, pretentious, or synthetic. When honesty in mainstream music seems to be a lost cause, Dr. Dog’s humbling performance gave hope to the hopeless.
Old Black Hole
Do the Trick
I Only Wear Blue
The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer
The Way the Lazy Do
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Heart it Races
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