Saturday Night: Dr. Dog At Warehouse Live

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Dr. Dog
Warehouse Live
November 13, 2010

Fans packed into Warehouse Live Saturday as Houston's temperatures dropped from balmy to brisk in what seemed like minutes. But the crowd had clearly braced themselves for such conditions, breaking out their seldom-used winter accessories to face the cold (we even spotted fleece!).

Philadelphia natives Dr. Dog, undoubtedly more accustomed to wintry weather than us Southerners, also dressed for the chill, clad in cozy knit beanies, each inscribed with their band name.

Touring in support of latest release Shame, Shame, the bearded, beanied quintet (who also donned their usual sunglasses) took the stage against a colorful polka-dot backdrop. Shame's "Mirror Mirror" kicked off the evening, followed by fellow newbie, the singsong "Stranger," both tunes instantly unveiling Dr. Dog's trademark three-part harmonies.

Shame material dominated the show's first half, continuing with the bluesy hymnal-esque "I Only Wear Blue," singers Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman splitting vocal duties throughout the set.

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While the band's signature style proved consistent as the show progressed, a few noticeable differences struck us immediately: Last time Dr. Dog came to town, they also played Warehouse Live's studio room - although it was considerably cozier this time around.

In 2008, they visited the even more intimate Walter's on Washington. Such an obvious acknowledgement made us curious to see how the group would manage a considerably larger crowd.

The second difference: The lights. The incessant, fluorescent and occasionally strobing light show was hard to overlook. We struggled to remember a past Dr. Dog show that boasted a traveling light spectacle. But as the night progressed, we realized the band is perhaps in the thick of what we ideally expect of our favorite groups; they are growing, progressing.

Actually, when looking past the uncharacteristic light show and noticeably broader fan base, it seemed Dr. Dog was right on track for making the transition from indie nightclub act to mid-size venue headliner.

Saturday's set was sprinkled with Dr. Dog's thumbprint sound: Melodic, vocally driven chamber pop, tinged with quirky dots of '60s psychedelia and woodsy folk-rock.

The set list spanned the band's catalogue, revisiting 2007's We All Belong with "Worst Trip" and 2008's Fate with the stormy "The Beach," and its variant counterpart, the lackadaisical "The Rabbit, the Bat, and the Reindeer." The jangly opening piano notes of Fate's "Hang On" drew instant approval from the crowd, who over mid-way into the set seemed to have as much danceable energy as they began with.

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