Thursday, May 20, 2010

Concert Review: Dr. Dog

Since when did Dr. Dog become so popular? I knew that the show was sold out, but it wasn't until I walked into the main stage at the 9:30 club that I really grasped the status that Dr. Dog has acheived of late.

And what is that status? Well, its sort of a confusing one. I never really thought of Dr. Dog as 'stoner rock,' or even a 'jam band,' but maybe their self proclaimed sixties rock sound has attracted the hordes of hemp-wearing fans who draw the clumsy parallel.

Jam bands make music that is easy to listen to. Its cohesive, recognizable, and soothing to the ears. Dr. Dog's set was anything but that. They are, no matter how much playing on a big stage may mask it, a lo-fi band. But, this lo-fi quality mixed with fancy venue speakers translated into volume. Lots and lots of volume.

Dr. Dog has always been a no bullshit kind of band. Very little stage banter, short breaks in between songs (if any break at all), and zero mistakes. On a small stage, its impressive. On a big stage, its still impressive, but Dr. Dog's mechanical efficiency combined with the size of the stage, the crowd, and the polish of the production made it all a little impersonal.

To their credit, it seemed like they sent out a big 'Fuck You' to any tertiary fans who came to hear just the catchy hits from records past. Almost all of their older songs, particularly off of We All Belong bore only a passing resemblance to the originals. They're probably so sick of playing, "The Girl" that they twisted and rearranged into something new. I'm happy to see a band evolving, and think a live show should always offer something new, so I was pleased with it. But I have a feeling a lot of people left with ringing ears, some unsatisfaction, and scratching their heads.


Caroline said...

nice pics. i used to think a major mark of a jam band was that their lights were so good that you'd still go see the show even if you were deaf. but after long walks on the beach/midnight kids had some sick lights at their show i guess i've had to re evaluate.

emily said...

the lights at the disco biscuits show on 4/20 were crazy enough to draw out 80% of the high people in DC that night - the mark of a true jam band.

but yeah, the fog + light combination at the LWOTB/midnight kids show was pretty sick as well.

on another note, that seems like it was a really good show. color me jealous.

Ben said...

i think we saw the same quirks in the show but came to different conclusions about it. impersonal was definitely the word of the evening. i don't know if it was the crazy light show, the way too loud sound (both of which can be attributed to 930, i suppose), or the fact that they pulled that "have a guy playing offstage" nonsense, but i was really rubbed the wrong way.

dr. dog has always made pretty earnest and straightforward pop songs, and there is a lot of appeal to that. they've always seemed to me like a bunch of scruffy and relatable dudes that like to play music. i felt like i was watching a completely different band from that that recorded their records (and from the last time that i saw them play), almost as if they idolized U2 instead of the Beatles. they had definitely become rock stars, and that just didn't mesh totally well with their songs.