Live Review: Dr. Dog @ Neptune Theatre

photos and review of Chad Syme

Dr. Dog’s Seattle stop on their “Be the Void” tour was sold out and packed the Neptune Theatre to its gills. The energy in the crowd was instantly contagious, and the environment of the retrofitted theater was perfect for this show. Even an hour or more before Dr. Dog’s set, the crowd was already exhibiting signs of an adrenaline rush, that icepack on the back of your neck kind of energy jolt you get the moment you realize the band you’ve come to see is walking out on stage. When they did actually take to the stage, they led off with “That Old Black Hole,” with Scott McMicken singing faux fireside and adorned with sunglasses and stocking hat.

By the second song, the curtains behind the band dropped and reveal a stage set... Yes, a stage set. Most bands simply don’t have the cash (with a capitol $) or the time needed to put that kind of effort into the spectacle of their live show (let alone fit one in at the Neptune). The set resembled the living room of a college student’s first apartment, decorated with thrift store lamps, handmade posters and stained glass cabinets salvaged from a traveling roadshow preacher. The set was very homemade and very fitting to the band.

Positioned sixth in their set was “Lonesome” from the new record. It’s my favorite song from the new album, and it’s obvious that it’s a favorite for the band as well. The energy and emotion in their performance solidified the mood for the night. I saw more dancing in the audience than at any show in Seattle that I can remember -- and not just head bobbing, as that would not be worth reporting -- people were using muscle groups that have lain dormant since childhood!

I love bands that share vocal duties between two members, and like John and John of They Might Be Giants, Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken write, record, and perform songs they have collectively created. But like twins who share identical experiences, they tell different yet cohesive stories when they sing.
The band has tremendous range, imagination, and soul with their song writing. They have proven themselves as musicians with an unquestionable understanding of who they are and what their music is. Whether they’re playing originals or covers, their sound is a patchwork of life and influences sewn together perfectly.
Hearing Dr. Dog live, you’re getting something different than a recording studio session, different than listening to their music in its various recorded forms. Every single song vividly reveals scenes from within and beyond the windows of a car packed with friends on a road trip, heading nowhere in particular and in no hurry.

It may have been Valentine’s Day, but those single in attendance were sure to go to bed that night with smiles on their faces, too.

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