Dr. Dog, The Head and the Heart
Music Farm
Feb. 3

Philadelphia-based indie-rock band Dr. Dog blew the roof off the Music Farm on Thursday night in a triumphant live show that had the enthusiastic near-capacity crowd bobbing their heads and singing along.

A strong opening set from Seattle band the Head and the Heart — recent openers for Vampire Weekend and Dave Matthews — kicked things off. As always, thanks are owed to the sound engineer, who kept things just right in the notoriously difficult-to-mix room.

Drawing heavily from their recent release Shame, Shame and 2008’s Fate, Dr. Dog’s set of songs highlighted the best of the band’s obvious retro influences and their unique, intricate brand of pop.

Obviously, these guys delved deep into their parent’s LP collections (at least the B section). The influence of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, and the Band is quite apparent.

The guys in Dr. Dog have perfected the art of crafting dynamic, beautifully layered songs that range from darkly reflective and metaphysical to loosely fun. They often switch-hit between the two moods within a single track.

Bassist Toby Leaman and guitarist Scott McMicken traded lead vocals during the set. While their songwriting and singing styles are very different, when they separately sing songs back to back they seem mined from the same vein.

With stylistic flourishes ranging from gorgeous sing-alongs and thumping bass lines to wailing guitar solos and lush organ swells, the songs rose and broke and rose some more, carrying the crowd along with them.