From the outside, St. Andrews Hall is just another old Detroit landmark: grand, noble, but altogether aged. On Friday, March 11th, however, the historic venue glowed with energy as a crowd of indie rock fans descended on Detroit excited to see indie rockers Dr. Dog (and special guest The Districts) live in concert.
A conversational murmur escalated into shouting enthusiasm as soon as opening act, The Districts, took the stage. Within seconds of beginning, the band appeared to have been captured by a wave of emotion - their impassioned words and movements fed off the crowd, and only amplified the energy within St. Andrews. Their set was relatively upbeat with an occasional underscore of heavier subject matter. The pain of romantic love and loss was evident in set standout “Chlorine,” underscored by lead singer Rob Grote’s passionate repetition of the line “it’s not that way anymore.” The Districts left their hearts on stage. Following a much-deserved applause, the lights dimmed and a nervous anticipation fell over St Andrews Hall. It was time for the show.
The members of Dr. Dog strolled across the stage in a single-file line sporting a mismatch of “psychedelic” apparel items, ranging from oversized summer sunglasses to patterned button-ups reminiscent of bold 90's fashion trends. Only a few seconds later, the band launched into “Fire on My Back," beginning the night with one of the strongest songs off their recently-released album The Psychedelic Swamp. After another new song, “Bring My Baby Back,” (a smooth, slow, but energetic parallel between music and past love), Dr. Dog moved into some old favorites such as “That Old Black Hole” and “Mirror, Mirror.”
The audience was absolutely ecstatic, singing along to every song with devotion and intensity. All ages were present and involved, from a few kids who appeared to have just started middle school, to college students, to a group of older, potentially retired individuals. The music grabbed each person the same, blurring generational lines as result of mutual love for an artist that’s truly, uniquely one-of-a-kind.
A wide variety of songs were played, highlighting differing areas of the band’s eclectic discography. During “Be the Void,” a song off of the 2012 EP Wild Race, the red, blue, and green lights vanished completely and the band paused briefly before descending back into their music with even more energy than before. After an enthusiastic performance of “These Days,” Toby Leaman, the band’s bass guitar player and one of the lead vocalists, bid the crowd goodnight and the members walked off, leaving the bright lights to reflect on to the now idle instruments and empty floor.
Of course, this departure was answered with a lively request for an encore, complete with loud clapping, stomping, and chanting. A few minutes later, the band returned, and kicked into four more songs. Among these was “Jackie Wants a Black Eye,” which substantially addresses human experience and the unfortunate duality of a necessary pain. “We’re all in this together now, as we fall apart” is repeated during the chorus in combination with an upbeat tone, a way of reminding us all that each of us goes through hard times. The band concluded with a spirited, awe-inspiring performance of the hit song “Lonesome,” giving Detroit their all before leaving the audience members in a state of euphoria and reflection.
Dr. Dog continues their tour across the United States, making stops in states such as Maryland, North Carolina, and Texas before departing to perform abroad. Check out their website for more information and details on future shows.