It's tough to rally for a late show at 9:30 club in the middle of the week. It's easy to stay home, watch TV, and say to yourself, "I'll just catch them next time they are in town." It's a comfortable alternative to making a trek into D.C. late at night. However, when a band like Dr. Dog rolls through town touring behind what I believe to be one of the top five albums of 2008, I completely refuse to resign myself to this type of complacency. So I got in my car and headed into the city; rocking out to the aforementioned album Fate on my mediocre, yet adequate Mazda 3 sound system. After rendezvousing with my buddy Ben, we had a couple PBRs at Solly's tavern at U and 11th NW, and made the quick four block jaunt over to the 9:30 club.
A quick aside...it seems that every time I attend a concert at 9:30, this one club employee (let's call him Biff) seems to be working the door. He's an intimidating presence to say the least, standing close to 6'5" with multiple tattoos and the most extreme ear "stretch" rings I've ever seen. I mention Biff because the first time I attended 9:30 (for a Wilco show of course) he tried to throw me out because he claimed I looked exactly like a guy whom he had kicked to the curb the night before. Luckily, I was able to convince Biff that I was indeed not this rules effacing gentlemen (he had apparently tried to fight a bartender) and I was able to proceed with my concert experience which culminated in meeting Wilco after the show. Anyways, maybe it's paranoia, but Biff always seems to scrutinize me more closely than other patrons when I go through the ID check process.
Anyways....I digress. On to Dr. Dog.
Let me sum up this band's talent and cultural relevance in a simple, direct phrase...I personally feel as if this quintet is currently the best band on the planet. I realize this is a bold statement and I know I said this about Wilco no longer than 2 months ago, but I'm just enamored with these guys right now.
For those of you who would like me to stop gushing and tell you what to expect when considering a download or a CD purchase, Dr. Dog 's sound is best described as an organic synthesis of three of rock & roll's most significant and pioneering bands in the history of music, The Beatles, The Band, and The Beach Boys. Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken serve as the band's principle songwriters and alternate lead vocals on every subsequent track on Fate. The discrepancies in Leaman's and McMicken's creative output are vast, with Leaman channeling The Band's distinct Americana sound, and McMicken taking seemingly all of his cues from Lennon and McCartney. Songwriting aside, the musicianship is stellar, with tightly constructed three part (!) vocal harmonies, soaring, harmonized guitar solos which never seem indulgent but rather necessary, and highly infectious bass grooves from Leaman.
Last night's show was heavy on tracks from Fate, and a few mixed in from previous albums We All Belong, and Easy Beat. Only issue for me was that McMicken's and Leaman's vocals were mixed pretty low causing them to be occasionally overpowered by the instrumentation. And as a visual bonus, the stage was set up with props straight out of a tropical beach, so my Miller Lite's tasted like Pina Coladas. Needless to say, I rocked out very hard, and I’m currently in withdrawal.
Please guys, come to Wolf Trap....