REVIEW: Dr. Dog at Turner Hall Ballroom

05.08.18 Dr. Dog-39

Photos by Kellen Nordstrom

It was Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 the night Dr. Dog came to Turner Hall to show Milwaukee what they were all about. The crowd was an eclectic amalgamation of hipsters, older folks, and somehow a group of 18-year-old girls. The beer was cold and the air was steamy with the early scents of spring, summer and a hint of patchouli. After long and eager anticipation the indie darling Dr. Dog took to the stage. And they took off.

Dr. Dog can be described as the hippie love child of The Band, The Beach Boys and The Beatles. The almost wave-like essence of Dr. Dog’s sound can be found as a culmination of those three previously mentioned bands, but if that baby then grew up listening to My Morning Jacket and Wilco. Personally, I found them to sound a leaning a little more to the latter than the aforementioned bands. Regardless, the sound is unique and melodic and hypnotizing. Hypnotizing is also exactly how I would describe the packed Turner Hall show that occurred on Tuesday night. Tuesdays tend to be a difficult sell for many artists seeing as how people have so-called “lives”. But, that did not stop fans from flocking to the almost 20-year veteran band.

Fresh off their newest album, Critical Equation, the band opened their set with “Heart Killer”. A welcome treat to any fan old or new. Dr. Dog has a rather interesting stage presence as they are highly atmospheric with their use of lighting and fog machines. Giving them an ambient glow, Dr. Dog wanted the crowd to feel as if they were on the same heavenly cloud they felt they were on. After their opener they kept the tempo going as they played a perfect combination of their older/slightly older hits, all while mixing in seven out of the ten songs on their newest album.

As for the show itself, I don’t think I could name a better sounding event at Turner Hall. Dr. Dog could be heard clear as day throughout the venue with every band member having a distinct sound vocally and instrumentally. With three singers each playing their respective instruments and singing, everyone’s pitch was right on key giving great distinction with all the sonic goodness that they have been known for. This is not to diss the phenomenal drums and piano/synth that supported the whole experience. In all my years of seeing shows across hundreds of venues and thousands of shows, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Dr. Dog was one of the best sounding shows I ever experienced.

However, that’s not to say that sound is everything that makes a concert great. The band had little to no interaction with the crowd. I mean like none. When they did address the crowd in between the songs they were extremely softspoken and muddy. I’m unsure if the sound set up was specifically for their singing, but any time they talked to the crowd it was lost completely. I don’t go to concerts to be pandered to by the band, but it definitely makes it more enjoyable and a fully immersive experience. Although the venue was packed it was a rather sleepy crowd with very little shouting or the normal whoopin’ and hollerin’ that I’ve come to expect in most rock shows.

That being said, there is no reason for me to not see them again as I absolutely love their music and they have mastered their concert sound. Any band that can run through a 22 song setlist (encore included) and keeps the crowd stacked with minimal interaction is a site to see. If you are into that type of genre and want to feel like a band is singing exclusively to you due their ability to soothe your soul, go see Dr. Dog you definitely won’t regret a minute of it.

Set List: 

Heart Killer

Survive

Shadow People

Buzzing in the Light

Listening In

Hang On

Where’d All the Time Go?

Lonesome

The Breeze

Under the Wheels

Army of Ancients

Critical Equation

Broken Heart

Go Out Fighting

Abandoned Mansion

How Long Must I Wait?

Nellie

That Old Black Hole

Encore:

Bring My Baby Back

Coming out of the Darkness

Jackie Wants a Black Eye

These Days

 

P.S. They didn’t play my favorite song “Heart It Races” and it totally bummed me out.

 

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