Dr. Dog’s show Friday night at Culture Room confirmed for me that the Philly retro rockers are good fun and little more. In lyrics like “No sticks, no stones could break my bones like you can/ If I knew hate, I’d call it love for you, man”, I don’t see much more at work than rhyming, none of the deeper resonance that better bands manage to hit while still pleasuring the ears. Still, those terrible lyrics come from my favorite Dog song, “The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer” off of Fate (2008). It is a track I will probably listen to years from now because it’s so damn fun, so irrepressibly groovy. Hell, I’ll be listening to it all day today after hearing Dr. Dog kill it live at Culture Room at the high point of their hour-and-a-half long show.
Dr. Dog is touring on the year-old Shame, Shame, the quintet’s first album off of Anti- and, as bassist Toby Leaman told me in an interview, their first, at times awkward experience recording in a pro studio. At Culture Room, Dog played plenty off their latest release, including single “Shadow People” and “Mirror, Mirror”, which contains the woeful refrain: “Mirror, mirror on the wall/ There’s no reflection here at all.” A healthy dose of Shame, Shame was to be expected, but I was disappointed not to hear a single track off of Easy Beat (2005). In a night with more than a few tiresome songs, “The World May Never Know” and “Oh No” would have gone a long way.
Still, it was a fun show, with Leaman straining his vocal chords to the snapping point on “Worst Trip” and Scott McMicken, the follicle-less boy wonder, bouncing around the small, steamy room in a knitted skully with a ridiculous red fuzz ball. I saw Dr. Dog in Chicago two years ago on their Fate tour and had a similar reaction: “That was a blast. Where to next?” But two years ago, Dog’s catalogue was less watered down with mediocre songs, so the show had fewer dull moments. Friday night’s show had enough to send a non-smoker (me) to the smoker’s patio to take a load off at one point.
Leaman told me Dr. Dog is already recording the follow up to Shame, Shame. “I think it’s some of the best stuff we’ve ever done,” he said. I hope so, ‘cuz even fun can get old.
Check out more photos from Dr. Dog at Culture Room.