Amusement Parks USA… (A Day at Coney Island and a Belated Dr. Dog Concert Review)

31 Jul

I went to Coney Island for the first time today, and I feel confident in calling it a mission accomplished. Nathan’s hot dogs, ice cream, cotton candy, rides, the aquarium, and a side show.

During the day, I was talking with one of my friends about an upcoming Bright Eyes show at The Waterfront in NYC, at which Dr. Dog is going to open for them. Oh my goodness! How is Bright Eyes getting so lucky with their opening acts- first the Mountain Goats, now Dr. Dog? I don’t know if it has to do with the rumors (please, dear lord, let them be rumors!) about Bright Eyes breaking up after this tour, and artists are lining up to be added to their line up.

I saw Dr. Dog back in February (on the 18th at Terminal 5), and boy were they fun. The tone was set when, walking into the venue, I saw that they were selling hats hand-knitted by the band- simultaneously offering warmth for peoples’ ears and answers about how the guys spend their time on tour between concerts.

Jeffrey Lewis was called in as a last-minute first act, and though he didn’t mesh with the vibe at all (he sang a few educational songs about historical figures such as Marco Polo complete with a slideshow of pictures he drew…), I still gave him props. I’d heard his Daytrotter session, so I knew that he was talented and perhaps just having a weird night. However, by the last song he was hollering and swearing a bit, and that got the crowd riled up and brought some cheer

The second act was a relatively new (at least back in February, I’d consider them so) group called The Head and the Heart, with a male and female leading vocals, a back up male singer, a drummer, and a bassist I believe- maybe guitar. They were charming and harmonized beautifully- and boy did the drummer have enthusiasm. After the show I found him and let him know that during shows I always like to look at the drummers, and he wonderfully portrayed Animal from The Muppets- the ultimate drummer goal. I wished him luck, he thanked me and told me that they hoped to headline their own tour over the summer… and lookie here, that’s just what they’re currently up to. I was also proud to watch them on television, they made their first TV appearance a few months ago on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

On to the main event, they guys whose band name was actually printed on my ticket. For ease of reference, I’m going to call the band members The Lead Singer (on guitar and lead vocals), The Little One (on guitar and backup vocals), The Hipster Bassist (he had a beard, wore shades at night, and played bass so he was asking for that one), The Other Guitarist (implied), and The Drummer (also implied). Dr. Dog is famous for giving each of their members nicknames that start with “T”, so this is really just me putting a spin on their tradition, honoring their ways. Arf arf!

“Psychelodic rock” is the way Wikipedia classifies these fellas, and based on the set design on stage alone I’m very inclined to agree. There were stained glass panes towards the back, probably about 15 feet high. The theme continued on to the front of the drums, and even a chandelier- and you know nothing says rock concert like a chandelier. ;)

I was thrilled with the set list. Though their most recent album, “Shame Shame”, received some lukewarm press as it was a bit safe and tame, but I dug it. I still dig it. And I’ll probably still dig it a month from now. Sure, it sounds a lot like their earlier albums, but I like their earlier albums. Sometimes I’d rather ol’ reliable than a train wreck.

Studio content aside, they had a presence on stage. Their energy was the stuff hamsters are made of, but instead of wheels these guys had guitars to pluck and cylinders to hit. When I listen to their music on my own it always makes me smile, dance, and bubble, and it was just that x80 live. Good, family fun.

Dr. Dog Setlist

1. Stranger
2. I Only Wear Blue
3. The Ark
(one of my favorite songs of theirs, the first one that got stuck on repeat)
4. The Breeze
5. Hang On
6. The Old Days
7. Someday
8. Shadow People
9. Army of Ancients
10. The Way Lazy Do
11. Worst Trip
12. Nobody Knows Who You Are
13. Shame, Shame
14. The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer
15. Fate
16. Mirror Mirror
17. Heart It Races
(though technically a cover of Architecture In Helsinki, this is my absolute favorite Dr. Dog song, and I was very pleasantly surprised to hear them play it- excellent note to end on)
18. Oh No
19. Today
20. Jackie Wants A Black Eye

One Response to “Amusement Parks USA… (A Day at Coney Island and a Belated Dr. Dog Concert Review)”

  1. hotshot bald cop August 31, 2011 at 8:48 AM #

    Glorious blog!

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