by Jace Allred
This wasn’t the first show played at Crescent Ballroom by Dr. Dog, neither was it the first show I had seen at the Crescent Ballroom. It was, however, my first live exposure of this six-piece band from Pennsylvania. This show was a life-changer and an unforgettable experience as everything came together perfectly.
It is worthy to note that Dr. Dog is not currently touring any sort of big, new album release. They only have put out a new live album. At select locations the band is also doing two shows in one night; an early and late show. And they have decided on playing completely different songs in each show… no repeats. Obviously, they are honing their live talent with this tour which makes it very fun.
Right out from the gates, Scott McMicken opened the show with the iconic “Shadow People” which set the tone of the rest of the show. I began to notice just how compatible the Crescent Ballroom is with what Dr. Dog is trying to put on. Crescent Ballroom is the light in the new music scene of Phoenix and is a trusted intimate venue for many music-loving fans in the Phoenix area. Dr. Dog’s presence only added to the Crescent Ballroom’s warm and friendly feeling. I could not have imagined them playing anywhere else in Phoenix.
As the set continued, song after song, the vibes given off by both the crowd and the band were bouncing back and forth. Toby Leaman previous to the beginning of the show had invited some guy from the crowd to jump up and sing with the band on an upbeat song. The guy had the time of his life and was jumping around with the rest of the band.
As they were playing “Stranger”, I began to want to talk with all of the strangers that were there with me. But it was really when they started to play “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” that the crowd got into it. Previous to this song, only a couple of fans were dancing and jumping and getting into it, but during this song, it seemed as if the band sung the chorus more times than usual, and towards the end everybody in the venue was resonating with the words: “And we’re all in it together now, as we all fall apart. And we’re swapping little pieces of our broken little hearts.”
Afterwards, they banged out their most raucous and emotionally charged song that everybody knew, “Lonesome”. After finishing out their main set list, they left for about two minutes and came back for the encore finishing it off with the unreleased track, “Fuck It”, a punk jam that is almost too fun to exist. Scott McMicken started it off by saying that of the whole tour, Crescent Ballroom won this special encore over. It was a perfect ending to a great night.
All in all it was a consistent set for the “early show” and was a full set list even though they were apparently going to play another show right after with completely different songs. It built up until the end and the sold-out Crescent Ballroom crowd didn’t stand there with their arms folded tight the whole night. There was plenty of dancing and plenty of jumping and singing-along. Dr. Dog smashed a successful live show and won me over completely.