Dr. Dog throws audience bone

 

Audiences received an unexpected four song encore on March 19 at Higher Ground after a high energy performance by Dr. Dog.

The evening began with folk band Birdie Busch and the purchase of beer from the bar counter at the side of the ballroom. The supporting act left the stage at 9 p.m.

Funk throwbacks were played over the speakers while the audience waited for Dr. Dog. The bar was crowded, but many people who had gotten to the venue early remained near the stage, talking in small groups.

Half an hour later, the speaker music stopped. A person in an orange and white astronaut suit walked on stage and began to remove grey sheets hiding an elaborate stage set. 

Self-made posters covered the back wall along with handwritten locations of the band’s current touring schedule for their new album “In The Void.” 

On an old rug was an improvised brick fireplace with glowing orange lights inside. There were also several stuffed animals on stage, including a miniature elephant atop the fireplace and a lion’s head on a long pole in the corner. 

The six-member band clambered onto stage and — without acknowledging the audience — began to play the opening song “Old Black Hole,” a song off their new album. 

Stage crew laughed when they realized singer and bassist Toby Leaman’s microphone was set up too tall for him. 

Not only were the venue’s speakers turned all the way up, but Dr. Dog brought in two of their own bass cabinet speakers. Leaman’s bass made the ground shake; a concertgoer said she thought the sound was going to push her over. 

“What’s up y’all,” guitarist and co-lead singer Scott McMicken said in a quiet voice just as the band began their second song. 

Keyboardist Zach Miller left his chair for the third song, “Nobody Knows Who You Are,” and played guitar along with Frank McElroy and McMicken. The song was all guitar and drums; Leaman just sang.

A single piece of red confetti dropped from the ceiling and fell to the stage where a concertgoer grabbed at it. The band did not notice as it was during a guitar solo, and the front line never faced the audience during solos. 

Five songs in, McMicken thanked the crowd for being there.

“Thanks for coming; we really appreciate it,” he said. “It’s not early, and it’s not a weekend, so we appreciate it.”

A security guard picked her way through the dancing crowd and took a conspicuous water bottle — that was not purchased at the venue — from a girl and berated her for bringing it. 

During the 11th song “Die, Die, Die,” McMicken removed his guitar and held it out to the audience.

“Hey, do any of you play guitar?” He asked. 

McMicken pulled volunteer sophomore James Tierney onstage and went to the back of the stage near the pole with the lion head atop to watch Tierney finish the song. The crowd cheered him on; some took out cell phones and snapped pictures. 

“It was the best moment of my life,” Tierney said, who has seen the band perform live six times. “Dr. Dog is my favorite band.”

Dr. Dog ended the concert with “Shame, Shame.” McElroy bowed and McMicken thanked the crowd again. They left the stage at 11 p.m., and the stage crew began to take apart the stage.  

Although instruments were being carried out, the audience stayed. The front row slammed their hands on the stage and the crowd yelled the band’s name. 

Several minutes later, Dr. Dog came back on and helped the stage crew re-set up their equipment. They quickly conversed over which song to play and decided on “From.” 

The concert did not end after the first encore song though. The band stayed on stage for four extra songs, giving the crowd 20 more minutes before leaving the stage for a second time.

Free posters where handed out at the end of the concert to the people in the front row.