A Strong Album Leads to a Stronger Performance

March 26th, 2012

Dr. Dog – Terminal 5 – March 23, 2012

There are two types of bands, those that focus on recording and those that focus on live shows. It is the rare exception when both are an active priority, but Dr. Dog appears to strive for overall excellence. Last month the band released its sixth album, Be the Void. As is the case with previous discs, the consistent output contains kernels of pop brilliance: rock that extends the Beatles’ signature sound. The next step was to test the material on the road, and on Friday night, Dr. Dog stopped at Terminal 5 to work out new songs and revisit old ones in front of a sold-out crowd.

The set’s first two songs mirrored the new album’s first two, “Lonesome” and “That Old Black Hole.” Apropos of the band’s established formula, bassist Toby Leaman sang the first song while lead guitarist Scott McMicken sang the second. The trade off and interplay between vocalists is one of Dr. Dog’s more unique and compelling aspects. Leaman’s style is gruff and labored. He chugs through songs with physicality and maximum effort. Contrastingly, McMicken’s voice is brittle yet sweet. During a jubilant performance of “Shadow People,” the crowd pushed with its collective weight to hold up his relentless plea, “Where did all the shadow people go?”

The shadow people are unaccounted for, but the people who came on Friday night made themselves known. Many of those in attendance held on to secret (and not so secret) desires for favorite songs like a hopeful lottery-ticket holder. And the encore performance of “Heart It Races” looked to be a winner for many. But Dr. Dog possesses a deep catalog and most songs seemed to connect with the diverse audience. —Jared Levy

Photos courtesy of Ahron R. Foster |