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Soggy But Happy At Glastonbury 2005

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The SXSW Experience, Part 3: All Together Now

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The SXSW Experience, Part 2: Dr. Dog's Happy Chords

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the insider one daily report


The SXSW Experience, Part 2: Dr. Dog's Happy Chords

Neumu Senior Writer Jenny Tatone writes: "I'm David Geffen and I want to sign your band!" shouts some heckler in the crowd halfway through Dr. Dog's mind-blowing afternoon set.

For a split second, I think maybe I've just witnessed history in the making: Dr. Dog's big break into superstardom. Because standing there thinking, no, knowing I'm taking in the best show of SXSW 2005, it doesn't seem so unlikely.

Geffen should at least want to sign 'em. Mark my words — you will be hearing a lot more about Dr. Dog. For now, just try to hear them. Check out their site.

And I'm glad to catch them midday at Emo's Jr., the small and intimate dive-y kid brother to Emo's Main Room. For the most part, I really dig all the afternoon shows. Rarely are they overwhelmingly packed. And I like the way they mess with your perception of time. Inside, you stand in a humid haze of darkness. And if it weren't for the narrow beams of white light bending their way through the front door, you'd think it was nighttime. Moving from club to club is like moving from day to night and night to day — just when you start to feel wiped out, you walk outside and the sunlight slaps you in the face like cold water, kicking you back into gear for the next set.

Dr. Dog take the stage at 2:45 p.m., sound-check briefly, give a quick introduction and waste no time getting started. First, though, singer/guitarist Scott McMicken — wearing baggy high-water pants held up high above his belly button by red suspenders — wraps a pair of cheap plastic shades (Remember the ones with fluorescent-colored arms? Yes you do!) around his long red hair as if he can't play without them. And as soon as the band breaks into "Oh No," he's jumping around like a hunched-back madman, kicking his chicken legs as high as possible whenever a good opportunity arises. It's great.

"Oh No" — a stomping, infectious number off their latest album, Easy Beat — is the crowd's first taste of Dr. Dog's awesome rollicking musicianship and superb harmonizing (four of the five members sing and shout). Intermittently throughout "Oh No," the music halts for an instant, as if suspended overhead, teasing you, making you desperate for more, and then it drops and fills the room and you're happy in love again. Intricate guitar work spirals and winds in an attempt to take over. And the rhythm section struts and sweats so hard, you must be deaf if you're not moving in one way or another.

"We're gonna play a soul song next," says bassist/vocalist Toby Leaman, who wears a plaid button-up shirt and has a straw hat dangling from a string around his neck. "What? OK, guess we're not," he adds, laughing, before breaking into the melodic, chugging "The World May Never Know," a song that has McMicken belting like he wants — no, he needs — the world to know. Keeping it upbeat, the others hum "shew-whop, shew-whop" in the back.

Next up comes the soul song, "Fool's Life," which starts out sad, sluggish and led by Leaman's so-brokenhearted-I'm-exhausted wail, before breaking into high-pitched group screams that pounce again and again and again while the guitars scratch out nonsense. This is Dr. Dog at their most inaccessible, but the energy is as strong as ever, and essentially why they win over a crowd and have them all hooting and hollering by the show's end.

Someone in the audience yells, "Dr. Dog! I love you Dr. Dog!" every now and then throughout the 30-minute set. It's a nice touch.

The band dances sloppily around onstage as they bang out happy chords and playful beats. You'd think they were on someone's back porch. They're all having such a grand time up there, how can you not?

To be continued

The InsiderOne Daily Report appears on occasion.



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