Dr. Dog | 3.08.07

It's apparent that they are competent, inventive, and inspiring as both studio and performance artists.


Creepy Crawl, St. Louis

Just a couple of months removed from their tour in support of fuzz-and-bang kings the Black Keys, Philadelphia's Dr. Dog returned to St. Louis as headliners at the (relatively) new incarnation of the Creepy Crawl. While the former show saw the quintet pleasing a larger, less informed crowd, their most recent venture turned the tables, for better or for worse. Following well-received sets from the Teeth and What Made Milwaukee Famous, Dr. Dog took the stage before a loose, yet conscientious audience, jamming tracks from their 2005 breakthrough Easy Beat, and exposing the aforementioned concert junkies to material off of their very recent release, the sensational We All Belong.

All but hidden from the sight of most in the venue was Dr. Dog organist Zach Miller, yet the band's organic synthesis of the unique and the universal showed that all attentions needed to be focused on the group effort. From bassist/soulman Toby Leaman's beard, to lead guitarist Frank McElroy's advanced height, to guitarist/crooner Scott McMicken's hippie-Elvis Costello visage, Dr. Dog presents a visual spectrum where individuality could be abused. Yet all parts, including the drum-play of Juston Stens, necessarily contribute toward a groovier whole. It's the back-and-forth lead vocals of Leaman and McMicken. It's the harmonized guitar solo on "Worst Trip." It's the tugging explosion on the peak of "Ain't It Strange." It's the way a "band" should play.

Warming up with the throwback sounds of We All Belong's "My Old Ways," McMicken sang "Let your worries go, we're all in love," and it didn't seem to take long to convince youngsters and drinkers alike. A wonderful blend of straight-up rock, retro tones, psychedelic melodies, and heartfelt vocals followed. The best of the bunch was Leaman's wailing cries on "Worst Trip," as he reached for the streets while belting, "Well I thought you'd kind of like it! It's awful dark and quiet here!" Not to be outdone was Easy Beat riffer, "Oh No," and the organ-driven, drunken howls of "Die Die Die," in which Leaman finds himself lamenting lost love, claiming that "every hour or so, I drank a bottle of White Mule."

My only complaint about Dr. Dog's set was that it seemed too short. Perhaps it was the cramped billing, but hopefully their live catalog will continue to expand as the minds of willing music fans do. Either way, it's apparent that they are competent, inventive, and inspiring as both studio and performance artists. In fact, after my millionth consecutive listen of We All Belong, it became clearer and clearer that this is music that begs to be absorbed in a smoky bar, with loose screws flying free and clear, and amps dutifully damaging young ears. That's what they're there for. | Dave Jasmon

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