Rainbows, sunglasses, action! PA natives Dr. Dog took the stage for the second of two nights before a sold-out Electric Factory crowd, touring in support of their 2013 release of B-Room. Dr. Dog is a band of dichotomies: they’re tight, but radiate loose vibes; they rock, but in a delicate kind of way; they’re passionate, but don’t take themselves too seriously. What’s more, bassist Toby Leaman and guitarist Scott McMicken share the role of lead vocalist; Leaman’s soulful, passionate timbre acting as somewhat of an antithesis to McMicken’s idiosyncratic sound.
After opening up their set with a relatively vanilla performance of their latest sweet-like-candy track, “The Truth”, Leaman showed off his classically rock-and-roll voice and rollicking bass line on “These Days”. For fans who came with the intention of dancing and clapping along, the latest and greatest “Broken Heart” featured some boiling hot energy and one of those signature Dr. Dog double guitar solos that we all so adore (for which we have but Steely Dan to thank). The next three tunes were a stylistic trifecta, jumping from Beatles-y rock goodness (“Ain’t It Strange”) to a first-rate soulful blues (“The Beach”) to pure jammed out psychedelia (“Say Ahh”).
Remember that bit about loose vibes? Unfortunately, in what I believe to be an effort to be that feel-good band Dr. Dog aspires to be, certain songs ended up being so loose as to unravel. “Twilight”, whose true identity is a subdued ‘60s psychedelic ballad, simply sounded out of place and poorly rehearsed. “Worst Trip”, which channels the likes of George Harrison on the recording, was, to put it in a word, noisy, and I couldn’t quite appreciate the true greatness of another one of those killer double guitar solos. All that said, Dr. Dog still puts on a hell of a show. “Lonesome” was an all-out party, fans greeting the band with well-syncopated “Hey’s” and Leaman letting out his inner rockstar, leaping into the hands of audience members to crowd surf. They even brought out the much-beloved Philly Phanatic (who was probably a better dancer than most of us) for “Oh No” during the encores.
Joining Dr. Dog was Saint Rich, the up-and-coming New Jersey residents whose rock solid riffs rival those of the great Keith Richards. What these guys lacked in rainbow light shows and colorful getups, they made up for with some the best stage presence in the game, frontman Christian Peslak climbing to the edge of the Electric Factory balcony and mingling with fans. All told, if you’re into rock, blues, prog, psychedelia (or just about anything else that emerged from the 20th century stylistically), and you don’t mind some high-voltage stage antics and rainbow beams of light flooding the air in all directions, I’d say a Dr. Dog show is the best place you could be.
Photo by Noah Silvestry | Silvestography.tumblr.com