photo by Dmitry Kolesnikov
by Bryce Wergin
I was out of town for all but the tail-end of Lincoln Calling. Was I bummed? Certainly. But the siren songs of old friends and, “If you don’t go, you’re fired,” were enough to pull me away from Nebraska for nearly all of the festival.
OK, I still had a great time while I was gone, but after hearing and reading the week’s recaps, I’m very sad I missed the majority of it. My two trips were sandwiched together with only a Wednesday evening for concertgoing, and even then I felt like a bit of a Judas in my decision to trek over to Omaha to see a band from Philly.
I had seen Dr. Dog once before during a summer in New York before I had any idea who they were, and it was a set I remember well despite the Coke bottle of rum and multiple other bands who played in Prospect Park. They had decorated the stage with trees and shrubs, and even brought a dog out to receive pats and pets from those in the front row. Since then, I had listened to two Dr. Dog albums pretty extensively, but was caught a bit unaware when I was scrambling to learn their newest album, Be The Void, as this particular show was approaching. Though I didn’t get more than a few choruses down, I still thought the album was full of catchy feel-good songs that would be a blast to see live.
— Ryan Wadzinski (@Ryan_Wads) October 11, 2012
Fellow East Coasters Cotton Jones were opening for Dr. Dog when I arrived at Slowdown. I had never listened to them before, but I thought their songs were decently well-written, and the mixed vocals of Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw blended together beautifully. I didn’t know any of their songs, but I’ll definitely be giving them a listen in the near future.
I started feeling better about making the run to Omaha immediately after Dr. Dog entered the stage. I was just a few feet from guitarist and co-vocalist Scott McMicken, who was wearing his signature dark shades with a stocking cap and an old sweatshirt. I’ve always thought there was something about the way he carries himself on stage that reminds me of a cartoon character, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. It’s tough to say who in the band grooves most on stage, but McMicken was definitely having a great time last Wednesday.
That’s one of my favorite things about this band — they pride themselves on their live set and put an incredible amount of energy into it, no matter how many nights in a row they’ve been playing these same songs. And they make it look natural. You can tell they’ve become completely comfortable playing together and are still having the time of their lives on stage after years of touring. Every one of them was dancing around, coming inches from colliding with one another. They were out-dancing the crowd for sure.
Dr. Dog rocking the Slowdown in Omaha instagr.am/p/Qv2B7ZjmAm/
— Tegan Snyder (@tegansnyder) October 14, 2012
My initial reaction to the crowd was they weren’t all that into it. There were people dancing, but it certainly wasn’t a large enough number to be considered notable. The tables up by the bar and away from the main stage were full of people conversing over drinks, and I remember thinking it was sort of silly to pay a cover just to come in and talk. It took a few songs for me to realize that many of the people at the tables were singing along to every song they played, and the more I glanced around the floor the more mouths I saw going right along with the vocalists on stage. That’s when I realized it wasn’t a dead crowd at all, but rather a calmer and more subdued show than many I’ve been to lately. People weren’t there to shove their way to the front or compete over who knew the most lyrics, they were just there to listen to songs they love.
I was surprised to hear their set list was sparser on new songs. I figured they would play most of the tracks from Be The Void, as it’s their newest album, or perhaps from their EP that just dropped in the last couple weeks, but they played from all over their discography. Only five of the 19 songs were from Be The Void, and they did a fantastic job mixing what they played between their four full-lengths. No matter what your favorite Dr. Dog album is, they had you covered. I was glad to hear some of my favorites like "Shadow People," "The Beach" and "The Old Days."
I do remember this being one of the most unconvincing initial walk-offs I’ve ever seen. When the band said thank you and left the stage, I had to laugh. They weren’t playing any tricks. They knew everyone expected an encore, and they made it a lengthy one.
When the band came back out and started playing their cover of “Heart it Races,” originally by Architecture in Helsinki, some had made just enough trips to the bar to be ecstatic about how often this particular track popped up on their Pandora. I might have been one of them.
Bryce Wergin is a Hear Nebraska contributor. He still wants to go to the pumpkin patch before fall is over. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.