By Grant Thomas
Tip’s was packed to the brim with indie music devotees on Thursday night – and deservedly so as Professor Longhair’s house was offered a stacked evening featuring the trifecta of Quiet Life, The Felice Brothers, and Dr. Dog. I’m happy to report that one of the most anticipated nights in recent Tipitina’s history lived up to the hype, and never more so than when the Philly quintet of Teach, Taxi, Text, Tables and Thanks took the stage just before midnight.
I wasn’t able to catch Quiet Life (though I heard good things) and found myself in the midst of one the most crowded Tipitina’s floors I’ve seen in some time as The Felice Brothers took the stage. The folk rockers from upstate NY put on an interesting set, but never really seemed to get into the swing of things during the abbreviated set and weren’t able to engage the audience with the new material. Swapping their trademark rowdiness for some more experimental tunes off of their most recent effort, Celebration, Florida, The Felice Brothers were less fiddle-and-shout and more synth-and-drum pad than I was expecting. They’re certainly at an interesting point in their career and the odd set proved this notion. Their older, bourbon-fueled tracks like “Whiskey in My Whiskey” didn’t mesh well with newer songs like “Back In the Dancehalls”, detracting from their usual ability to fully control the energy of the crowd. Nonetheless, the boys did have some classic moments, highlighted by the fiddle and accordion chaos of “Run Chicken Run”. The sardines-in-a-can effect combined with the new tunes made for a pretty static crowd, but I definitely knew I was at a Felice Bros. show when two girls beside me at the bar got feisty and exchanged some obscene gestures, harsh words, and a hair yank (In other news, Dr. Dog had an entirely opposite effect on some gregarious females in front of me).
After the crowd’s lackluster reception of Christmas and Co., it was clear that Dr. Dog was the evening’s big draw, and few fans were willing to sacrifice their floor spots during the down time. Following some righteous set break funk music, Dr. Dog’s crew unveiled an interesting, transformative backdrop. In a recent interview with an Athens, GA radio station guitarist Scott McMicken said, “Nothing is like playing a show, the thrill of just setting it up is special and everyday the stage is your new living room.” So it was only fitting that the band performed in front of a nighttime living room scene complete with bright red walls, moonlit windows, and lots of lamp (and a pajama-clad drummer). As the atmosphere finally livened up, everyone’s favorite Beatles/Beach Boys/The Band hybrid took the stage to raucous cheers and warmly invited us into their living room. Dr. Dog’s throwback sound comes off extremely well in a live setting and the Philly band kicked off strong with “Stranger” and a revved up “Shadow People”, sung respectively by bassist Toby Leaman and McMicken. The band’s ability to change lead singers with ease and the oft-utilized harmonized backing vocals give Dr. Dog a sound seldom heard on the live scene today, making for an always-engaging, energetic performance (not to mention constant comparisons to the aforementioned legendary bands). Perhaps the overriding X-factor that really takes Dr. Dog’s performance to the next level is the fact that you can tell they really enjoy what they’re doing – or maybe it was just McMicken’s toboggan cap, either way I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dr. Dog – Shadow People
I was excited to hear the quintet unveil some new material and am officially stoked for the release of Be The Void, which will drop in February. “Nobody Knows Who You Are” (a bonus track from Shame, Shame) stood out from the deeper tracks played during the lengthy show and can be found on their facebook site as well as Spotify. Aside from the new material, Dr. Dog offered up a nice blend of tracks from Shame Shame, Fate, and We All Belong, before ending their set with the fan favorite “The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer” and an exceptional cover of Australian indie-rockers Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart It Races”. Although he wasn’t introduced until the end of the show, new live performance addition Dmitri Manos (of Golden Boots) added an extra layer of awesomeness to Dr. Dog’s live show by providing some psychedelic effects that helped make from some groovy transitions between songs.
An epic encore capped off the night and brought in 11/11/11 with a bang for the concert goers at 501 Napoleon Avenue. “The Way the Lazy Do” gave way to the final “Jackie Wants a Black Eye”, and I can’t think of a better way to end the night than having an entranced crowd sing along “We’re all in it together now…”
Dr. Dog – Hang On
This review was written by Grant Thomas for Live Music Blog: NOLA, a content partner of NolaVie.