We rolled up on Cannery Row Thursday night with the spirit of solidarity coursing through our veins. And not the “I put a sticker on my Facebook profile picture” brand of solidarity; we mean the real thing. We had all survived the flood, and it was time to celebrate our unity with a little Dr. Dog and a lot of fermented beverages. Cannery’s lot was crowded to capacity, and thus we parked on our favorite darkened side street, Gleaves — known to us now simply as Piss Alley. We happened across a friend while parking who offered us a “toke” from some sort of one-hitting smoke intake device … not that we’d ever engage in that sort of thing. Ahem.
Given the water shortage and the fact that we’ve all been skipping showers lately, we anticipated something of an overwhelming stink saturating Cannery’s atmosphere. (Who needs showers? We just use a little “Talcum in the Middle,” if you know what we mean.) There was no significant stink, but we’ll tell you what we did find: some greasy-lookin’ hairdos and the strained, wistful crooning of one Mister John McCauley and his Deer Tick. We only caught two or three songs from the Tick, but we determined pretty swiftly that they’re genuine candidates for the classification “Countrytallica.” Yeah, yeah. That expression is usually reserved for locals like Shoot the Mountain (née Jigsaw Mountain Boys) and Hammertorch, but Deer Tick seem to do the noodly, alt-country jam thing about as well.
It’s funny to think that just last year — Valentine’s Day 2009, to be precise — Dr. Dog were playing upstairs at Mercy Lounge. Thursday night, however, they performed before a crowd that had sold out by the time they went onstage. And, according to a Lightning 100 representative we spoke with, they and Deer Tick donated a “large portion” of their ticket sales to flood relief. We’re not at liberty to say precisely how much, but suffice it to say that the “large portion” was in fact a large fucking portion.
Dr. Dog’s set was relatively Fate-heavy and punctuated by seriously impressive bursts of pulsing, green, blue and red lights that cast the band's silhouettes against a thick screen of fog. What’s more, Dr. Dog's bobbing, energetic antics and pristine vocal harmonies seem to have only improved since we caught them down at South by Southwest about six weeks back. Oh, and brand-new drummer Eric Slick is absolutely fluid, by the way. Their set, of course, featured plenty of Shame, Shame and a little bit of We All Belong, and we didn’t even mind too much that we didn't hear much Easy Beat and couldn’t navigate the overwhelmingly packed crowd to make it to the front of the stage. Why? Well, mostly because it was our eighth time seeing the Dog, but also because we happened to catch a couple of good stories from friends — stories about flood recovery and about people allegedly pissing on John Rich’s car. Seriously.
Dr. Dog’s encore featured some of our favorite jams, including Easy Beat’s “Oh No” and the Architecture in Helsinki cover “Heart It Races,” a remarkable single the Dog released as a 7-inch back in Aught-Seven. As an associate put it, “It gives [us] hope that this many people came out for a band this good.” And considering the week we've all had? Yeah, we'd have to agree.