Depending on the track, Dr. Dog’s sound can span from baroque-pop, folk, soul or psychedelic rock. Since they began touring in 2002, the band has released six albums and developed a dedicated and cult-like following. The band’s most recent release, “B-Room”, came out in October of last year and offers a more synth-pop variation on the group’s otherwise folksy-rock aesthetic. Regardless of genre labels, audiences were dazzled by Dr. Dog when they headlined at a sold-out show at The Observatory in Santa Ana last Wednesday with openers Saint Rich and Moses Somney.
The Observatory is oddly situated amidst a long stretch of business parks in Santa Ana, about an hour in either direction from both Los Angeles and San Diego. The audience was comprised of about equal parts San Diegans, Angelinos and residents of Orange County. The San Diegans and Angelinos who drove an hour to get to The Observatory were mainly super-fans, including a group of 30- or-so-year–old men belting lyrics throughout the night.
Moses Somney opened with his interesting brand of soulful acoustics. Twenty three-year-old Somney has recently risen to high acclaim in the L.A. indie-music scene, landing him LA Magazine’s new artist to watch last week. The second opening act, Saint Rich, are based in New York and New Jersey and have a more ’80s rock sound. This combination led an audience member to yell, “You guys are like Springsteen” during Saint Rich’s set.
Dr. Dog mostly played songs from their last two albums, “B-Room” (2013) and “Be the Void” (2012) but also played a few tracks from “Shame Shame” (2010), including “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” and “Shadow People.” Vocalists Toby Leaman and Scott McKinnon (Tables and Taxi, respectively) sing lead on different tracks. Although both have soulful voices, Leaman’s lead vocals range a bit more on the bluesy side, while McKinnon’s vocals offer a distinct folk twang.
Dr. Dog only stopped playing to get a breath in before their encore. Instead of pausing between tracks and amusing the audience with concert banter, they played either light piano or guitar riffs between each song. This variety made for a unique concert experience. The opening to each song was so different from the original recordings that band kept audience members on their toes throughout the entire show.
Most Orange County residents in attendance were local high school students who spent the majority of the concert honing their crowd surfing skills. McKinnon and Leaman started playing original tracks together in the eighth grade, so perhaps playing to this crowd offered a bit of nostalgia. Audience members took to throwing their shoes to the stage throughout the performance as a gesture of admiration. It was clear that the energy of the crowd made its way into the band’s excellent performance.