It wasn't exactly a picture-perfect evening to be on a man-made beach upon an island off the tip of Manhattan. The rain had been falling steadily throughout the day‚ and the last ferry to the island left at 5:30. Throw in two opening bands so Dr. Dog doesn't even start til 10:00‚ and that leaves you with a lot of time to get a little moist‚ but also to get a little drunk. And I don't know if I've mentioned this before‚ but you should bring your family members to a Dr. Dog show. Any of em'‚ they'll love it. I do‚ and it's fucking great. Anyway…
Chief‚ from L.A. played first‚ and they were great if you're looking for a mellower folk-rock‚ country-rootsy band in the greater L.A. area‚ but you shouldn't be looking for a mellower folk-rock‚ country-rootsy band in the greater L.A. area. Next came Boston's Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves‚ a fairly raw R & B band with a horn section and a baby-faced white guy on lead vocals who sounds like James Brown. As Toby would proclaim later during Dr. Dog's set: "That man knows how to tuck in a shirt! Tight!" The man did have some mojo despite his stream-lined attire‚ but the band needs to tighten up a little more before they can hang with their like-minded modern day peers.
Of course right before Dr. Dog's set the weather moved from a slight drizzle to a perfectly clear night‚ and suddenly the setting became ideal. The sound was phenomenal‚ and was perhaps the clearest I've ever heard the band live. My poor brother stood in shocked silence as they hit every three-part vocal harmony perfectly‚ and Scott and Frank nailed their harmony guitar-licks perfectly. Scotty seemed to focus on more of his newer songs than Toby‚ and I don't think I can rant in anymore reviews about how amazing I think his freshest material is. But actually‚ they played two brand new cuts of his that were again‚ simply amazing. One was a power rocker with a repeating chorus of "I must have lost a lot of blood." It was big‚ and killer‚ and head-shakingly awesome. The other was an acoustic number he did by himself at the start of the encore entitled "Happy Birthday Part Two." It was another magical tune highlighting his ability to make simple words sound so right - in fact he even talks about that ability in the song‚ the self-referential Buddha that he be.
"Jackie Wants A Blackeye" was of course also rather poignant with its line of "We're standing in the rain‚ and we're feeling like the weather." Not to say that Toby's songs didn't also strike deeply this evening. The fact that there are two phenomenal lead singer/song writers in this band is a key piece of their allure‚ and they sound more unified than ever with the recent addition of Eric Slick on drums. I constantly hesitate in my reviews of this band‚ because no other live performance can leave me as speechless as they can on a good night like this evening on the city coast. With a reassuringly large crowd composed of both teenage hipsters and early-thirties music-heads‚ they played a straight two-hour set that left worries of being soaked long forgotten and echoes of "My Friends" being sung long on the ferry ride back to shore. When this band is on and the sound is right‚ there may not be a more powerful live show of this caliber out there anywhere right now.