PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- More than a decade before the current musical renaissance of Philadelphia, there was Dr. Dog.
The Chester County band was the scene standout, and the claim to fame for a community that had yet to get the spotlight it deserved. With a Beatlesque blend and a retro stoned aesthetic, the band has only grown in sound and sold-seats in the time since, but they are still embraced harder in their home base of Philadelphia than anywhere else.
Who knows about the rest of the country, but inside city limits a Dr. Dog show feels like a bonding reunion of old friends and even better vibes. It's a thread that connects a certain segment of the city, like Hall & Oates for a generation that clutches Kenzingers and still has a Phillies COLLEGE night shirt somewhere in their closet.
As The Fillmore filled, it was fitting to see fellow Philadelphia standouts Hop Along open up the evening.
Hop Along leads that new pack of "indie" heavyweights from The City Of Brotherly Love, with their amazing 2015 album Painted Shut and standout singer Frances Quinlan. The band, which played the Made In America festival last summer, came out tight and thunderous with their song "Waitress". As usual, it was Quinlan and her bigger-than-the-room voice that stole the show. Frances shifts from soft serenade to third-gear howl in an instant, as her eyes roll back to summon the sound. It's dynamic and impressive how she punctuates portraits in songs with that mighty wail. As they tore through nine tunes, the band finished with a vicious rendition of "Sister Cites" featuring the frenetic fret-work of guitarist Joe Reinhart, and a room filled with family and new fans.
As Dr. Dog took the stage to a swirling 8-bit soundtrack and dizzying light display, the band plunged into their latest The Psychedelic Swamp. Like a Magic School Bus journey from trippy power to mellow groove, Dr. Dog wove through their entire back catalog.
In its most intense moments, the stage looked like the 80's ideas of the future. An LED light-lined drum kit and throbbing neon lights lit up the room, while a TRON style grid of lights blared from behind. These sensory explosions would be followed by periods of swaying calm, but the energy never left Dr. Dog.
Perhaps Dr. Dog is embraced and beloved in Philadelphia so much, because it always feels like they give it back a little harder here. After a career-spanning seventeen song set, they came back for more – likely eight more – and even took some by request. Friends would join on stage along the way, and the whole night became a snapshot of why Dr. Dog is still so important to the music scene in Philadelphia. Beyond being a primer for bands like Hop Along and a critic's list of others, Dr. Dog has a Masters in putting on a show – one that's fun and communal, and makes you want to go home to put on a record and see if you're still bad at doing drugs. That's something special.
Dr. Dog will be back at The Fillmore in Philadelphia on April 17th.
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