All too rarely in life, do we encounter surpassed expectations. When was the last time somebody really wowed you, went well beyond any reasonable bar you had set? When those moments come, it’s best not to speak. No need to jinx an otherwise blissful experience. It’s best to stay quiet and soak that pure satisfaction deep within, for however brief a time it may last.
Surpassed expectations were offered up in spades in the bowels of the Old National Centre last night. Deluxe, the latest addition to the historic Indianapolis venue, played host to a basement party that won’t be forgotten by attendees any time in the near future. Established Philadelphia outfit Dr. Dog offered the crowd a relentless set of songs that spanned the best of the band’s six LP’s. The evening was as much a celebration of 2008 breakthrough Fate as the newer material.
Up-and-coming indie act GIVERS brought the room to a sizzle early in the evening. The Laffayette, Louisiana natives played a high energy set, driven by bombastic rhythms and the magnetic appeal of singers Tiffany Lamson and Taylor Guarisco. The band delivered upon the strength of their 2011 debut In Light. Lamson rotated her duties between ukelele, percussion and vocals – adding textures at every step. Guarisco’s play on guitar, though spastic, was more impressive than I had expected, playing with a speed and agility influenced as much by afrobeat as indie rock. Unfortunately, the strings were largely drowned out by the drums, my lone complaint from the opener. By the time the band left the stage, the pulse of the room had quickened and a growing crowd of listeners had converted to fans.
Philly’s finest, Dr. Dog, hit the stage shortly thereafter with a couple dozen balloons in tow, signaling the start of their traveling party. And a party it was. Rather than force feed the audience a setlist of tracks from their latest effort Be the Void, Dr. Dog provided fans with a history lesson. They rolled through a non-stop stream of highlights that underscored the strength of the band’s formidable catalog. The audience repaid the gesture with raucous applause, sweat-drenched dancing and informed call and response throughout.
I lost count of the number of songs, but it had to approach 20 or more. Dr. Dog kicked things off with a few tracks from Be the Void, with the audience chiming in loudly during the blues driven “Lonesome” and bouncy “That Old Black Hole.” The band never glanced back. Personal highlights included lead guitarist Scott McMicken’s signature squeal on “The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer”, “Unbearable Why”, and “Do the Trick.” Bassist Toby Leaman carried his share of the vocal load, offering up memorable moments on “Shame, Shame”, “Hang On” and new track “Vampire.”
In reality, missteps were hard to come by. The set, though loud and a bit muddled at times, was solid top to bottom. Though Dr. Dog covered the gamut, the strength of their catalog speaks to the fact that there were still a few missing tracks that I would have loved to hear. Most notably, the omission of new single “How Long Must I Wait?”. But you won’t hear any complaints from me. I would go back to Deluxe tonight and start the whole thing over again.
Written by Rob Peoni
Over the last month, I have been thrilled by my discovery of The Coasts, a two man band comprised of college buddies Ike Peters and Eric Mount. The two financed the album themselves for $400 with the help of Little Rock producer Isaac Alexander. Their work resulted in a lo-fi, low budget joy ride that I have hardly been able to put down.
The album immediately resonated with me. Peters’ vocals sound alarmingly similar to Dr. Dog lead singer Scott McMicken. However, The Coasts are much less dressed up than Dr. Dog, exchanging four part harmonies for stripped down, roots rock appeal. The first time I heard their self-titled debut, it sounded as if McMicken were singing an album of lost Black Keys covers.
Like The Keys’ Rubber Factory or The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St., the tight quarters and sweat drenched setting of their makeshift recording studio bleed into the music. This album is old school rock n’ roll at its finest: addictive melodies, fuzzy guitars and the occasional horn flourish.
Crack open a frosty beer, light a cigarette and give this album a spin. Quite simply, if you can’t get down with The Coasts, we probably should not hang out on the weekends. The duo has some work to do before they carve out a truly unique sound. As stated earlier, their influences are apparent at every turn. That being said, I will sacrifice originality for quality songwriting and good, old-fashioned rock n’ roll any day of the week.
Written by Rob Peoni