Dr. Dog & Deer Tick @ Warehouse Live
I go to too many damn shows – to the point where my excitement level seems to taper off for each random one I attend. Now and again, though, a line-up of bands will come to town that make me feel as if I’m about to go to my first show again. Before even entering the venue, butterflies build a tiny little flutter in my belly, and I start to get quite giddy. It hasn’t happened many times this year, but the times it has have generally lead to an all around party. The most recent occasion of my 12 year old nervousness and excitement was when one of my current favorites, Dr. Dog, and their road-tested group of openers, Deer Tick, made their way to the jam-packed Studio at Warehouse Live. I made it just in time for the start of Deer Tick’s set, and was glued to the stage for the next three-and-a-half hours. Read all about the show and browse a bunch of my shots after the jump.
Deer Tick started out their set with a bang, running through a host of their faster paced songs to get the crowd into it. Soon, though, they slowed it down and played through a bunch of the material I’m more attuned to by the group. Deer Tick have Houston roots, as frontman John McCauley spent quite a bit of time in the Bayou City, so they’ve managed to develop a good-sized fanbase due to regular tour stops over the past few years. The highlight of the set was the highly requested “Houston, TX” that had McCauley introducing it as “When In Rome…” to the delight of many.
I’ve now seen the group on three different occasions, and McCauley seems to get drunker with each one – last time pulling from a bottle of Jack, and this time slamming beer after beer during their short 35 minute set. I’m hoping he won’t end up derailing any time soon, as he’s young and very talented, and the songs he writes are certainly worth hearing. There’s nothing wrong with partying, but you have to know your limits. Thankfully, it’s yet to hurt their sound in the live format, but with such a rough folk, blues and country tinge to McCauley’s voice, that’ll take a while. Good set, regardless. I will never miss Deer Tick if presented the opportunity to see them live.
Finally… the main event. The band I’ve loved for numerous years, and have only caught bits and pieces at festivals, but had yet to have the opportunity to soak in a full headlining show by. Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog have been on my regular rotation for quite some time – Fate was my favorite album of 2008, and I have a feeling their latest effort, Shame Shame, might get those honors this year. I’m healthily obsessed. After quite a bit of set-up time, there they were, opening with the first track from Shame, “Stranger” – the perfect opening song for the evening. My favorite song from the new album, “I Only Wear Blue,” was soon to follow and pushed my grin to the widest smile imaginable as I belted out the lyrics like a little schoolgirl. Soon, they were onto material from Fate, with a three song run featuring “The Old Days,” “Army Of Ancients” and “The Breeze.” Already leaning completely on their latest two albums, I was unsure how much of their older material would be showcased, but wasn’t worried as those were the albums I was most interested in hearing.
“Mirror Mirror” translated quite well in the live format, making the room bob their heads in unison with the beat. Taking turns between vocal duties, guitarist Scott McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman were both in fine form this evening, both adding a playful new touch to their particular songs. “The Ark” came across much more lighthearted than on disk, as did a quicker version of “Station.” A mid-set “The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer” was a nice little surprise, and “Someday” was the perfect calm after working up quite the sweat just before. One of Dr. Dog’s strongest songs on the new album, “Shadow People,” came next, and featured the best sing-a-long moment outside of the encore. “Where’d All The Time Go,” “Fate” and “Unbearable Why” all came and went, followed by one of Leaman’s better vocal performances on “Hang On.”
McMicken’s ballad of love lost, “From,” had the crowd swooning and swaying, before turning the Studio into a dance party during “Later.” Finally playing something not from Fate and Shame, they pulled out an oldie-but-goodie in form of We All Belong‘s “The Way The Lazy Do.” As they started the set with the new album’s opener, it was only fitting they’d finish it with it’s closer. “Shame Shame” never really hit me while listening to the studio version, but live was a whole different animal. It was the perfect way to leave the crowd before encore, starting off slow and somber, but eventually finishing out as a full-on rocker.
Going into the encore, I knew we were still yet to hear “My Friend,” and that it would probably close out the show, but it was what else we were to get that left me guessing. They came back on stage, started clapping to their own beat, and eventually led into my other favorite from Shame, “Jackie Wants A Black Eye.” I was completely satisfied, and could’ve walked out immediately after that, but what kind of fan would miss the last two songs? Unexpectedly, they broke into a cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart It Races,” which was a lot better than you’d expect Dr. Dog covering AiH to be. Finally, as expected, they finished with a rollicking version of “My Friend” which set us all into the night with a feeling of fulfillment.
Deer Tick were good, Dr. Dog were freaking excellent – I recommend both bands to the fullest extent possible. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to see them both again in the very near future.
Words and photos by Jim “Eggs” Bricker