It’s not often that you see a dad navigate his way through throngs of concert-goers gathered by the front barrier to track down his teenage daughter. Most dads would just make sure their kids were doing okay and hang by the back bar until the concert was over. But when Dr. Dog is the band taking the stage, who can blame the guy for getting front and center? The local group played an incredible St. Patrick’s Day show at a jam-packed Fillmore in Fishtown.
Dr. Dog is a band that brings together the young, the old and the people in between. Teens decked out in Dr. Dog tee shirts, and of course the trademark Dr. Dog winter hats, swarmed towards the stage. Twenty- and thirty-somethings were packed three deep at the bars as they tried to get some alcohol into their systems to properly celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. The older people camped out in the seats on the balcony that runs all around the top half of the venue.
Everyone was getting settled in as another notable local band, Hop Along, opened up the night. The band garnered nationwide acclaim after releasing their latest album, “Painted Shut” last year. Guitarist and lead singer Frances Quinlan had her trademark vocals on full display as she howled with emotion and passion during songs like “The Knock” and “Powerful Man.” Members of the group complemented the each other well. Guitarist Joe Reinhart was totally shredding while bassist Tyler Long and drummer Mark Quinlan together provided a rock solid rhythm section. Quinlan thanked the band’s friends and families for coming before playing the group’s closing number, “Sister Cities.”
The Fillmore crowd was raring to go as Dr. Dog finally made their way to the stage one by one and began to play “Holes in My Back.” It’s a pretty epic tune from Dr. Dog’s latest album “Psychedelic Swamp” that only got better as the band segued right into “Fire on My Back.” Dr. Dog set the tone for the night as they kept their foot right on the gas, playing “Bring My Baby Back,” also off “Psychedelic Swamp,” and the classic “That Old Black Hole.”
It’s hard to find a band that plays as tightly as Dr. Dog does. Toby Lehman and Scott McMicken are both great on vocals, Frank McElroy is steady as hell on guitar and backing vocals and drummer Eric Slick literally never seems to miss a beat. “Be the Void” was one of the best tracks of the night as the band took some time to jam out before bringing the song to a resounding conclusion. No matter what the song, Dr. Dog is giving it their all and it’s why their live shows are a must-see experience.
Dr. Dog has such a deep catalogue that the set list always provides great songs you forgot about right along with their hit tracks, of which there are many. Songs like “Distant Light” and “Turn the Century” were my prime examples of “Oh hey, this song is playing, good thing I somehow know most of the words!” Then when the end of the set comes along, Dr. Dog can bring the house down with their solid gold hits. On the night of St. Patrick’s Day the big three songs to close were “How Long Must I Wait?,” “These Days” and “Shadow People.” If you have never heard any of those songs but have made it this far in the article, go listen to them right now, I’ll wait… Hey thanks for coming back, or for some of you, never leaving. Like I was saying, it is insane how much energy is packed in those three songs. The band finds a whole other gear that takes the crowd to a place reached by few. Oh boy, I get all psyched up just thinking about it.
After the legions of fans demanded an encore, the guys came back out and played “Nellie,” a great sing-along jam. The mob of Dr. Dog fans swarmed towards the stage as Lehman said the phrase that will drive any crowd bonkers, “It’s time for some requests.” A lady to my left was given the microphone and requested the deeper cut “Vampire,” from “Be The Void.” After that, McMicken decided it was time for another request and handed the mic to yours truly. I was totally freaking out but somehow managed to request my favorite Dr. Dog song, “The Rabbit, the Bat and the Reindeer.” I don’t know if there is a cooler feeling in the concert-going world than getting to decide what song 2000 plus are going to listen to; it’s surreal.
Oh, but the magic did not stop there as Lehman deemed one more request necessary and handed the mic to The Triangle’s very own Assistant Entertainment Editor Matt “Babyface” Coakley who requested the classic, but a little overplayed, “Heart It Races.” While some in the crowd were clamoring for some lesser known and played songs, there were plenty who might have been seeing Dr. Dog for the first time and “Heart It Races” live is not a song to be missed.
Dr. Dog played “Lonesome” and left the stage at half past eleven. At almost two hours, it was most definitely the longest show I’ve seen the band play. Hometown shows are always something special and with Dr. Dog that is doubly true. If you missed this epic St. Patrick’s Day show, not to worry, the band will be back at the Fillmore again April 16. Buy your tickets now– heck, even bring your dad along.