Dr. Dog is on a mission. Twice during the course of the night they tell their fans to “take care of each
other.” That notion of caring is at the heart of who they are, as well as their music. It comes through right from the start, as they stroll on stage and dive headlong into Survive. Taken from their last album, Abandoned Mansion, the chorus spells out their mission, “Remember, take care of your heart and cry, but somehow we’ll survive.”
For nineteen years now their popularity has grown, as evidenced by the Cinqo de Mayo sell-out crowd. Bassist Toby Leaman and lead guitarist Scott McMicken handle most of the lead vocals, while rhythm guitarist Frank McElroy, drummer Eric Slick, and keyboardist Zach Miller handle harmony vocals. Incorporating elements of everything from baroque pop to indie folk, there are even elements of reggae that slip into the mix.
Go Out Fighting from their current disc, Critical Equation, offers a similar message as Scott McMicken inspires the crowd, “Go out fighting, never give up.” Part of the allure of Dr. Dog comes from just this belief. Over the course of their career they’ve seen that same kind of faith from their growing legion of fans. Turning back to the new album, Buzzing In The Light receives a somewhat muted, but warm reception from a crowd clearly unfamiliar with material from an album released just 8 days earlier.
More comfortable with Abandoned Mansion, Ladada sees the crowd beginning to come around enthusiastically. Even the newer tunes like Listening In start making more sense. Pulling two songs from The Fate, Army of Ancients and The Breeze, both the band and the crowd seem more inspired.
After finishing the main set with Critical Equation, the crowd had been won over completely, charmed by a band that understands how to structure a set to play to their strengths. Called back to the stage, four encores are performed, beginning with the 7th of ten tunes from Critical Equation, the rocking Heart Killer. They hark back to The Psychedelic Swamp for Bring My Baby Back before ripping into Jackie Wants A Black Eye a tune that questions the nature of love, “And we’ve been hurting so long that our pleasure is our pain, Are we madly in love or are we madly insane?”
Concluding the evening with a version of Architecture in Helsinki’s Heart It Races, Toby Leaman tells the crowd once again to take care of each other. The crowd takes his advice with them as they head toward the exits on this warm May night.