Dr. Dog at Northern Lights (3/20/2012)

24 Mar

Let me preface this by saying that I did not go to this show in the best of spirits.  I woke up at 7:30 on Tuesday morning with a “muscular” headache to a throttling jackhammer dismantling my sidewalk outside.  Apparently the Albany OGS felt the bricks were getting a bit too uneven on the sidewalk.  I’ll trip on them just the same.  Tax dollars at work waking my ass up.

I committed the cardinal concert sin on the way to work and listened to the artist on the day of a live show: a bit of Easy Beat and Shame, Shame in the car.  Work was busy as [fill in expletive] and I was forced to work through lunch in order to get out of there anytime close to 5 o’clock.

I got home, changed, slammed a fistful of peanuts (because that was all that I had to eat besides rice in my apartment) and then was in the car Clifton Park bound. On the way up to Northern Lights for the show (by myself), I felt the onset of a panic attack.  I fiddled around in my center console for my medication, nearly caused an accident and popped a pill.

I got into Northern Lights shortly after Birdie Busch had started her set. Waiting for my medication to kick in, I plunked myself at a table in the far back.

I calmed down and moved closer to the stage after a couple of songs.  This was my first time hearing Birdie Busch and I really enjoyed her set, arguably more than Dr. Dog’s.  The unfamiliar songs (with the exception of a cover of Steve Miller Band’s “Wild Mountain Honey”) were folky, inviting and had me tapping my feet.  Busch also livened her set with some playful banter, notably saying “gesundheit” mid-song to a front row sneezer and telling the audience between songs that she was awarded a $1,000 Walmart gift certificate via text right before the show and how she would really love to take the audience with her to spend it on some pre-Easter Peeps, then giggled “Preeps.”  The crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves, except for one douchebag who kept yelling “Play ‘Freebird!'” before every song (I cannot believe these concertgoers still exist).  Anyways, Birdie had me warmed up and excited for Dr. Dog.

*     *     *

Dr. Dog is a band that I started listening to in college, was given numerous opportunities to see live, and always found some way to miss them: weddings, graduations, injuries, last minute changes in plans.  When I saw that they were going to be local, I bought a ticket for myself months ago and figured that the worst case scenario was I’d see the show alone.  I did.

Above: Scott McMicken and Zach Miller (with guitar, sans organ) playing “Lonesome”

It took the crew about half an hour to get Dr. Dog’s instruments tuned and mics sound-checked.  The result: terrible acoustics.  There was way too much bass and the mics for the backup vocals might as well have been muted.  The sad thing is that Birdie Busch sounded just fine!  I took two videos during the show but the sound is so lousy on them that they’re not even worth posting.

Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy came out donning Dr. Dog snow hats and sunglasses.  I couldn’t help but think of Love Burger in Can’t Hardly Wait

The energy was good for Dr. Dog, both band and crowd.  Toby Leaman was screaming away and sweating halfway into the set.  Scott McMicken (who looks like the lovechild of Thom Yorke and Sam Rockwell) was bouncing around and throwing mini rock n’ roll kicks.  My problem was the band’s lack of crowd interaction and the setlist.

Dr. Dog had no problem rocking out, but they hardly said a word to the audience.  Part of the live show experience is interactive.  I can sit in my room, max out my speakers (and crank the woofer if I wanted to mimic Northern Lights) and listen to Dr. Dog.  To be fair the band did do the cool, smaller venue encore thing and ask the crowd what songs they wanted to hear (more on that in a moment).

It did not surprise me that the setlist was weighted in Be the Void tracks.  I’m not a [total] moron; I realize that a band that’s touring to promote an album is always going to have a new-album-heavy setlist.  My problem was that I didn’t hear any of my favorite Dr. Dog songs in between new tracks…most of which are found on 2001’s Easy Beat.  In fact, I don’t think they played a single track off of Easy Beat.  I suppose that is the price I paid for committing the cardinal concert sin.  When McMicken asked for requests during the encore I yelled “Say Something” twice and he responded to the girl in the front row with, “We’ve already got a request for “Vampire.””  At least they didn’t subject me to “Warrior Man.”

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