Last summer, a friend and I somewhat spontaneously decided to go to Shaky Knees music festival in Atlanta, partially to avoid the mess of Vanderbilt graduation and partially because of the killer 2015 lineup. We each had our own personal ideas of bands we wanted to see, but as with any music festival (especially a smaller one like Shaky Knees, where there were only at most two bands playing at the same time), we often had a bit of unscheduled time to casually listen to bands that we weren’t familiar with or didn’t know at all. One such band was Dr. Dog.
They were playing in the heat of the afternoon and there was virtually no shade left (not an ideal situation in Atlanta, even during mid-May), but we bought popsicles and settled on top of a small hill to watch the show from afar. Dr. Dog was a perfect festival band; their music was chill enough that I didn’t feel bad about occasionally zoning out, but their stage presence was exciting enough that when I was paying attention, I was captivated. I wasn’t familiar with their music at the time, but they are the type of band that lends itself well to casual listening. Therefore, when I saw that they were playing at the Ryman on April 2 (last Saturday), I decided that I wanted to see them again.
The concert opener was Wild Child, a female-fronted indie-pop/jazz-infused band. I arrived halfway through their set so I didn’t completely get the full experience, but what I did see was very solid. The vocals were really strong, and there was an electric cellist, which is always an interesting addition to any band. After Wild Child finished their set (to a standing ovation), it was another 20 or so minutes before Dr. Dog went onstage.
Dr. Dog’s set started with the “Badvertise” intro, before the band went straight into “Fire on My Back” and a few other Psychedelic Swamp songs (including arguably the best song on the album, “Bring My Baby Back”). One thing that I think Dr. Dog does really well is stage presence. I was unsure if their set would be as enjoyable outside of a festival setting, but the band was just as engaging as they were when I saw them last summer. They played a good mix of old and new songs as well, which I appreciated, since I didn’t know a lot of their older music. Their set was also quite long, totaling up to a 20-song setlist that lasted almost two hours (not including encore). The encore itself was four songs long, the majority of which were audience-requested and ended with the popular cover of “Heart it Races.” Overall, it was a great concert with a diverse and well-thought out setlist, and the band truly worked hard to put on an entertaining show. It paid off, as the audience was very engaged throughout the entire set.
There are certain bands that are still enjoyable live despite not fully knowing their repertoire of music, and Dr. Dog certainly falls within that category. I personally was only really familiar with their newest album, but that did not detract from the experience. Rather, I appreciated knowing the songs that I did, but did not feel confused or out of place when I didn’t know a song. I would definitely recommend seeing Dr. Dog live if given the chance.