Like many a band’s first “official” album, Dr. Dog’s 2005 release Easy Beat was a furious and arresting microcosm of everything they had to say. Or at the least, listening to We All Belong, their 2007 follow-up, I got that sense. Where Easy Beat had a sense of urgency, a need to stomp their feet and announce they were worth hearing, the newest effort seems infused with a subdued, if equally melodic, ease that makes it an understated reaffirmation of everything they stood for in 2005. So what to expect live then?
|Listen to The Girl by Dr. Dog:|
From the opening strum of the guitar to the final crashing of cymbals, Dr. Dog were the dog of old, full of melodies and harmonies reminiscent of The Kinks, The Hollies or The Byrds, but with an aggression pronounced from recent studio recordings. Or maybe that’s the way all bands play live, strung out, a slate of empty faces in front of them, the randomness of the road pushing them inward into an eruption of cathartic self-release.
Whatever it was, Dr. Dog grabbed the tempo from the start at Starr Hill and rammed it in the audiences’ ears. For an hour and a half, the five members of the band propelled a rock ’n’ roll wash of pure delectability, leaving everything in a rapturous exhaustion by the night’s end. There was no difference between old and new material, just exuberance and sweat.
Dog days of summer: Dr. Dog ignites Starr Hill (figuratively speaking) during a blistering set.
Lead singers Toby Leaman and Scott McKicken, respectively lead guitarist and bassist, distinguished themselves in particular with extravagant playing and, by turns, soulful yelps and mournful crooning. The rest of the band—guitarist Doug O’Donnell, keyboard player Zach Miller and drummer Juston Stens—fell in behind, augmenting the two with a colorful, tight sound. For that night, at least, there were no expectations, just a love of what they were doing, and the joy it inspired in the crowd.