Last Night: Dr. Dog, Here We Go Magic at South Side Music Hall

Dr. Dog, Here We Go Magic

South Side Music Hall
November 13, 2010

Better than: hanging out with a bunch of college students anywhere else.

On Thursday, Dr. Dog brought quite the diverse crowd to the South Side Music Hall.

They had the token indie rock fans, loads of SMU undergrads, and an abnormally high amount of dudes wearing Texas Rangers ballcaps. But the lowest common denominator shared by the fans and the band alike? A serious hankering for a good time.

And that's exactly what happened onstage from the first note to the last of Dr. Dog's near two-hour set.

The members of the band emerged from the backstage area like a bunch of kids in a neighborhood gang.

They picked up their instruments, greeted the half-full room, and launched into "Stranger," the first track from their new record Shame Shame. They were tight -- and you could tell that there was a certain freshness and excitement that came with playing new songs.

But, along with introducing new music, they had some other tricks up their sleeves for this tour. The stage was covered with intelligent lights that synced swirling beams with each song and shot them all over the room. It seemed like a slick move from a band that typically eschews anything new or high-tech in their music. But maybe they're attempting to join the rest of the music world in the 21st century -- after all, their new record is the first one they've ever recorded in an actual studio.

Despite the lights feeling slightly out of place, they were a nice addition to an already exciting performance from a band that has played together for years.

And those members were completely in sync with each other from their brilliant Beatles-esque vocal harmonies to their string bending dual guitar solos. But that familiarity was to their detriment on songs like "Worst Trip," which was sped up significantly, and the lazy beginning of "Die Die Die" during the band's encore.

It was the new songs that saw the band truly vitalized. "Shadow People," the band's new single and the best song of the night, energized the entire audience. That energy continued on the gritty minor key "The Ark," which features one of the sexiest and most sinister guitar solos since The White Album.

Opening act Here We Go Magic's set ebbed and flowed from one song to the next. It's rare to see a band build so much tension in each song with such minimal instrumentation. Yes, there were five people on stage, but each member really held back in order to let the songs build organically. 

Critic's Notebook:
Personal Bias: I thought Dr. Dog's performance was really good, but I couldn't help but think that it would have been so much better in a smaller, more intimate room. The subtlety and whimsy in their music got lost in the high-tech speakers and intelligent lights.

Random Note: Here We Go Magic really stole the show for me.

By The Way: It was a shame that the crowd talked through one of Here We Go Magic's best songs "Casual."

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