Review – Dr. Dog w/ Here We Go Magic & Good Old War @ The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA – 11/05/10
Nov 18th, 2010
By Daniel Lee
Category: Dr. Dog, Good Old War, Here We Go Magic, Los Angeles, Wiltern Theater, The, Written Reviews
So I dropped by the Wiltern to Catch the Dr. Dog show last friday. It was the first time that I’d seen them since Coachella and 2nd time since the most recent album Shame, Shame dropped. Unfortunately, for me I spent the week reminiscing about some of my favorite older albums (mostly Easy Beat and We All Belong) which had a much more 60′s rock feel than their current crop of songs which are more like a poppy mishmash of Dave Matthews and Bruce Springsteen.
I was elated to find out that Gold Old War, an emo-folk band I have and sticky soft spot for, was also on the bill. But, I have to admit one of the songs that defines the band in my mind is “Weak Man”, on which Anthony Green (of Circa Survive) takes lead vocals, and though Green traveled with the band earlier in the year he was not there Friday night. With Green present the band’s songs become urgent and yearning with him missing the band’s jangly white boy soul harmonizing seemed only “Sweet” or “Nice”. It was a bit of a disappointment and though their three part melodies were heartfelt they were less than engaging
The 2nd band of the night Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic was an interesting choice whose musical predilections both melded and clashed with the band before and Dr. Dog to come. All three bands and about 45% of bands on the indie rock circuit these days are intensely into harmonies and harmonizing but their approaches differ dramatically. While Gold Old War relied on nice facile baritone, tenor, soprano arrangements Here We Go Magic was more reminiscent of the vocal play of their Brooklyn Compatriots Dirty Projectors. During most songs the lyrics were both undecipherable and unhinged as they were being sung by anywhere from 2-5 members of the band at any give time.
Oftentimes as I strained to hear I noticed that no one vocalist was belting out the same lyrics. Many songs were downright delusional rounds of swirling vocals that inhabited a far more experimental realm than any of their Brooklyn brethren. The band ended their set with a song completely unlike the lilting merry go round melodies of their prior contributions. This song began with some highly distorted electric guitar and ended with a crescendo whose intensity and build even made the preteen kids who were talking throughout the shut the fuck up and dance. Throughout the song the lead singer Luke Temple dropped the soft delivery of the prior tracks and raged like it was 1992 and his teen spirit infected the now anxious and engaged crowd. It was the perfect primer for Dr. Dog but an odd ending for a mostly mellow set.
When Dr. Dog Finally took the stage after two strange but captivating performances they were electric. I didn’t even mind the dorky red hats that have become the signature trademarks of lead singers Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken. A few songs in to the admittedly mid-tempo slightly more homogenized for the masses set I found myself singing along to songs that I didn’t even know. I’m not sure if I can attribute the feeling to the emotions in the crowd, the multiple drunk teenage girls unevenly dancing against me, or to a band that’s found their footing and their niche. I will say that I did miss the more whimsical 60′s tinged tunes from 7 years ago but the show downright impressive if not quite transcendent.