My first experience seeing Dr. Dog was a handful of years back, covering the Wakarusa festival in Lawrence. The band’s show at one of the smaller side stages was under-attended (everyone else must have been tripping out to STS9 or Buckethead or something), but the most memorable thing about the performance was how hard the ‘60s-influenced band brought it for just a handful of onlookers. Last night, they certainly didn’t encounter any issues with attendance, but the energy hearkened back to their show in that muddy field by Clinton Lake.
Due to a mix-up at the ticket office, I was unable to catch Purling Hiss, but it sounded nice and thumpy from outside the venue. Entrance and drink finally secured, I was finally able to check out Dr. Dog’s stage setup. They actually had a real set, which looked like the inside of the Scott Fitness in the Crossroads — all retro carpets, lamps and backdrop with fake Dr. Dog fliers and a list of cities on their tour. Do other touring bands at Dr. Dog's level have sets like this? It looks like it'd be a pain to set up and tear down every night, and I don't imagine they have a crew of roadies.
The mostly college-aged crowd warmly embraced the band as it took to the stage, whipping out their cameras and their weed, the smell of which lingered throughout the show. Dr. Dog is on the verge of releasing its sixth studio album, Be the Void, on February 7, which makes it kind of a strange time to see the group; about a third of the set was new material, most of which, it was clear, the crowd was unfamiliar with. People were mostly quiet for the new stuff, then they'd go nuts for the songs they knew. Lawrence was just the second date on the pretty lengthy tour, which stretches to the end of next month.
The band’s hour-plus harmony-laden set was strong, particularly on the slower, bluesier songs (such as “The Ark” or “The Beach”) in which frontman Toby Leaman’s voice strained and snarled while the band reveled in the slow burn. Judging by the woos, the crowd’s favorites were “Hang On” and “Shadow People.” The first song of the encore ventured slightly into Spinal Tap
territory, with lyrics about an "ancient warrior man from an ancient warrior clan" (maybe the psychedelics are getting to the brain), but they recovered and closed on top with an oldie, “Easy Beat.”
That Old Black Hole
Do the Trick
I Only Wear Blue
The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer