Dr. Dog had the Showbox Market popping off like a tropical hotel party in an ode to their recent release, Live at a Flamingo Hotel. After seven studio albums, the band has immortalized their raucous live show, capturing their infectious energy in a beautiful two-disc experience. The Showbox was decked out with a huge semi-circular Flamingo backdrop, classy potted ferns, and colored lanterns hanging over the crowd, implying that perhaps this Flamingo Hotel could be anywhere, at any Flamingo Hotel. Tuesday night’s set list on stage had a doodle of a sunglasses-wearing, cigarette-smoking flamingo, presumably drawn by one of the band members. This was the first night of a U.S. tour with opener Hanni El Khatib, and it was sure to be fun.
California’s Hanni El Khatib started back in 2010, and has since worked with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys on his second album, Head in the Dirt. Obvious connections can be made to the Keys’ sound, but Khatib brings his own blend of dirty blues, simplified and raw. Joined by three or four performing members at any time, Khatib’s live show is no nonsense, and no frills. It was a treat to hear Khatib’s cover of a 1930’s song called “You Rascal You” (originally written by Sam Theard), and his own single, “Pay No Mind.”
In Dr. Dog, Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken (bass and lead guitar) share singing duties, their dichotomous voices creating the perfect harmony. Leaman’s raspy snarl lends a nasty badass attitude to his tracks (as in Fate‘s “The Beach” from 2008), while McMicken’s songs have a lighter, romantic feel (like in “How Long Must I Wait,” from 2012’s Be The Void). It’s a great combination, providing just the right breaks to keep each interesting.
McMicken introduced one crowd favorite by saying, “We’re gonna do what we call in the business a ‘golden oldie.'” They launched into “That Old Black Hole,” a thought-provoking sing-along from Be The Void, and the crowd swooned. Things got crazy later in the set, as the band played Leaman’s “These Days” from the same album. The song’s guitar has an incredibly euphoric quality, and as the happy notes came blasting from the stage, crowd members jumped around, singing along. One couple was so into the concert, that during “Shadow People” from 2010’s Shame, Shame, the woman jumped into the man’s arms and they both went toppling onto the floor. Dr. Dog fans know how to party!
Highlights of the encore included a fantastic cover of Architecture in Helsinki‘s “Heart It Races,” where the crowd sang the undertones while the singers harmonized over the top; as well as a groovy instrumental breakdown before “How Long Must I Wait.” One song that was woefully missing was “Too Weak To Ramble,” from 2013’s B-Room, a vulnerable and sexy crooner. Dr. Dog are a band who must be seen live to understand their full power. Flamingo Hotel does a great job, but it’s nothing compared to the real thing.
Long Way Down
Be The Void
Army of Ancients
Turning the Century
I Hope There’s Love
That Old Black Hole
How Long Must I Wait
Heart It Races