Dr. Dog, The Cave Singers
Lone Star Room at the Palladium/Gilley's Industrial Complex
April 23, 2009
Better Than: The Pennywise/Pepper show going on at the Palladium last night, which I thankfully saw zero seconds of.
Fans arriving at the Loft for last night's Dr. Dog show were instead directed to head to the Lone Star Room, a mysterious space on the first floor, accessed through the Lamar side of the building.
Falling somewhere in the size spectrum between the Loft and Gilley's, the room easily accommodated the sizable crowd, though the brick walls and concrete floors didn't exactly make for pristine acoustics.
Not that the change in venue mattered to Dr. Dog, who took to the stage (decorated with a colorful plaid backdrop and all manner of fake flowers and plants) and quickly launched into "The Ark," a track off last year's stellar Fate LP.
As anyone who's seen Dr. Dog live can attest, the band's shows are loud, energetic affairs, with guitarist Scott McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman bouncing around like twin, coked-up Rick Dankos as they trade lead vocal duties.
Songs like "The Way The Lazy Do" and "The Pretender" are epic affairs live, dwarfing the sound of the band's recorded versions and bringing out the instrumental hooks in Dr. Dog's arrangements, from Leaman's melodic McCartney bass to the twin guitars of McMicken and Frank McElroy, which positively roared through the We All Belong track "Worst Trip". Halfway through that songs, I realized I was singing along to the guitar parts--always the sign of a sweet solo to these ears.
Unfortunately, I've seen Dr. Dog play fantastic shows at much smaller venues, which made this affair slightly bittersweet, as the sound--too loud and bass heavy up front, too echoey in back--left a little to be desired.
Or maybe it's just that I'd seen the lesser known Cave Singers play a fantastic opening set, even recovering from a bit of drama to win the crowd over with their fanatical, tent-revival-worthy indie folk. Guitarist Derek Fudesco (formerly of Pretty Girls Make Graves) nearly filled out the arrangements on his own, playing bass parts with the aide of a foot pedal as he wowed the crowd with his inventive acoustic finger picking, while drummer Marty Lund used a small kit and a washboard to get the audience bobbing along to nearly every song.
Singer Pete Quirk--whose tank top and floppy pink hat made him look something like Will Oldham at a breast cancer 5K--soldiered through the set despite the presence of one drunken female fan, who tested everyone's patience by screaming just off mic and stealing Quirk's tamborine and maraca, neither of which she could play with any semblance of rhythm. Finally, after she'd taken her shirt off and continued messing with Quirk's equipment, the band abruptly stopped a song and begged the woman to "mellow out," suggesting "less booze, more weed." It's generally a rarity for a girl to take her shirt off at a rock show and be escorted out by security, but in this case it was warranted--even cheered--as Quirk said to the crowd, "Sorry, I can't abide."
Thankfully, the band's songs were just as memorable as any drama, with "Seeds of Night" recalling the gritty urban shuffle of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and the insistent rhythm of "Dancing on Our Graves" inspiring a set-ending dance party up front.
Personal Bias: I've probably seen Dr. Dog seven or eight times now--being a fan since the 2005 release of Easy Beat--and I'd say the Cave Singers/Black Mountain show at Dan's in fall 2007 was easily one of my favorite shows ever.
By The Way: The mother of Dr. Dog guitarist Scott McMicken drove in from the Midwest for this show.
Random Note: After security kicked out the drunken, crazy Cave Singers fan--whom I've personally seen pulling the same schtick at a Hailey's show--her boyfriend returned with two more beers. Upon hearing the news that his girlfriend had been removed, this douche walked up front and poured beer on the woman who'd been standing next to his girlfirend, prompting the five-foot-nothin' girl to push him a few yards back and punch him in the face a couple times. This girl is my new hero (security didn't even kick her out, since her cause was just).