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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dr. Dog at the Crocodile Cafe

posted by on October 16 at 12:19 PM

Can a Monday night crowd really be fooled? At 9:30 p.m. at the Croc last night, they were dressed to the nines, all smiles and synchronized dance moves, pretending to kick off a new weekend. And for a while, they pulled it off, because Detroit’s The High Strung was the right opening band for the falsehood, its Kinks-loving hooks and melodies upheld by a thunderous, Zepp-lovin’ rhythm section. They played hard—hard enough to bleeeeed…or at least cut the bassist’s thumb open, but hey, it’s Monday night. I’ll take it.

The week’s reality started to catch up by about 11:00. The crowd was still plenty active midway through Apollo Sunshine’s set, just after the band unleashed its out-of-nowhere stoner-rock take on Bach’s Fugue in D Minor, but under the surface, something wasn’t clicking. Maybe it was the incessant buzzing from a busted tube amp. Maybe it’s the fact that Apollo Sunshine’s hard rock approach has recently teetered away from the Trail of Dead post-rock builds and explosions of old (evident in the band’s set-closing number) and more toward the stoned, jammy rock of Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops (complete with those bands’ trademark “stop the song midway for a full-band drum solo” gimmick), a transition I haven’t been keen on. I guess I like a little more musicianship and guitar ability in my ’70s classic rock throwbacks—if you want to be sloppy, skip at least one decade, right?

I banked on headliner Dr. Dog to pull the crowd back at this point, whose We All Belong is firmly lodged in my personal ‘07 best-of list, and at the outset, the Philly quintet seemed up to the task, jumping its tempos and pogoing around the stage even more often than usual. Perhaps this tour with mega-loud Apollo Sunshine and The High Strung has convinced Dr. Dog to charge its sweet, Beatle-ian pop gems with a maniacal recklessness, evident when Toby Leabman screamed his throat raw and when Scott McMicken was too busy jumping around to sing into the damn mike.

At night’s end, the day of the week ultimately depended on position in the crowd. At the very front stood Friday night, hands clapping through the songs, bodies pressed together to finish the night with “Wake Up“‘s rousing sing-along ending at roughly 12:45 a.m. In the middle and back stood grumpy ol’ Tuesday, who’d already ushered much of the crowd to go home once the initial excitement wore off halfway through Dr. Dog’s too-long set. I’d gotten a touch of Tuesday, as I found myself zoning out and staring at the ground by 12:30. Something tells me The High Strung’s night-stealing set so early was the biggest factor, a problem on any night of the week but even more so when trying to maintain momentum on a friggin Monday. But I must’ve blocked the aforementioned touch, as my good friend J. Zwickel was to my right, still singing along until the last song. You’re welcome, pal.

Here’s Dr. Dog’s opening song last night; the rest of my bad-sounding clips have nothing to see, since the stage lights died halfway through this song:

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