Kevin Norris

Dr. Dog – The Music Box @ Fonda 10/6/09

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Filtering straightforward pop hooks with remarkably soothing harmonies, the indie pop act Dr. Dog have made a name for themselves with their classic blend of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and The Band.

So with their current headlining tour, the Philadelphia natives’ made their way to the Music Box @ The Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood on Tuesday night. Opening with the upbeat “Worst Trip” the band emerged from the dark shadows of the stage that was decorated with fake plastic trees, flowers, and ferns. Throughout the night it felt like the members — who were all wearing cheesy sun glasses except singer/bassist Toby Leaman – were playing in a jungle, especially for drummer Juston Stens who was obscured by the fake foliage.

While the jungle-esque setting might have seemed a little overbearing, it certainly did not hinder their much-animated performances. Throughout the entire set, Leaman and co-lead singer/ guitarist Scott McMicken bounced around the stage with so much charisma and energy that at times their playing became a little slapdash when compared to their recorded work. Nevertheless, it wasn’t needed for them to play with such careful precession, as they were able to provide an alluring and spirited experience that is usually not captured in the studio.

Elsewhere, a majority of the set was reserved for bouncy songs like “The Breeze,” “The Way the Lazy Do,” and “My Friend,” in which the nearly sold out crowd danced, clapped, and sang-a-long to every word. However, the highlight of the night was with the darker more moody songs “Die Die Die” and “The Beach” when Leaman sang with such intensity and conviction that it sounded like his vocal chords were going explode.

By listening to their albums an appealing quirky eclecticism is revealed, but by seeing Dr. Dog live comes a loose swagger that isn’t present on their recorded work. It’s with this swagger that makes Dr. Dog one of the more noteworthy acts to see live.

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