By Lucien Flores, Music Editor
Dr. Dog continued its triumphant rise to prominence last Thursday by playing their first headlining gig at House of Blues. After playing Paradise Rock Club a handful of times, the band has reached that next level. The band cemented its reputation as one of the premiere indie acts in the nation, playing one of the best House of Blues shows in recent memory.
After a spaceman led the band into the House of Blues’ living room, the band opened the night with “That Old Black Hole,” the lead single off their most recent LP, Be The Void. On the record, the song juggles an unstable teeter-tot feel with a rich ‘70s-detective-flick groove, however, it sounded a bit sparse live. A decent opener, but questions lingered whether or not the band could replicate that intimate vibe of their Paradise shows. These doubts dissipated when the show kicked into gear with Fate’s standout number—and the fourth song of the night—“The Ark.” Laden with fat, Lennon-turned-Harrison-esque, guitars, pounding drums, smooth harmonies and Toby Leaman’s elegantly hoarse voice, “The Ark” delivered a few solid minutes of dark and dirty blues.
The strongest Be The Void track of the night proved to be the swift, guitar-propelled, romp— “These Days.” In our recent interview with Leaman, he revealed that “Heavy Light” has been the strongest—and his favorite to play—on tour so far. The Scott McMicken-led song achieved a more of a jam aesthetic when taken onto the stage.
While the set was strong, Dr. Dog brought it to another level with the night’s 14th song, “The Beach.” Sultry and painful, the tracked moved along, a funeral procession of organ and guitar. From here on out, the show achieved a higher level.
The audience’s biggest reaction came when the band repackaged the Easy Beat standard, “Oh No,” as a fiercer and faster beast. Gone were the sleigh bells and strings while the guitars were turned up. Seven years later, and it still sounds so good.
After ending the night with their tried-and-true cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart it Races,” Dr. Dog came back on stage with a powerful encore. “The Way The Lazy Do” with its biting drums, undulating piano, and fiery energy sounded ferocious live. The somber “Die, Die, Die” was transformed to a sing-along therapy session; if “The Beach” was a funeral procession, then “Die, Die, Die” is a painful trudge to hell.
Over the course of the night, a few audience members barked at the band, imploring they return to Paradise in the future. While the spacious and industrial House of Blues is a tough venue to fill with an intimate atmosphere, Dr. Dog ultimately managed the feat; perhaps their faux-living room set helped feed the homey feel. The audience was absorbed by the band’s energy and watched with delight as Dr. Dog transformed the cold House of Blues into a warm dance party.