Dr. Dog / Delta Spirit
Tractor Tavern; Seattle, WA

Dr. Dog and Delta Spirit derive their musical selves from a time when indie was nigh existent and rock was king. There’s no hint of modern necessity in their melodies, ideas, or aesthetics that tie them down to today’s prototypical banal. Delta Spirit are a brand of straight forward, no frills rock and roll that keeps small town bars alive, whether through jukebox revenue or by hosting the best bar bands to blow in from parts unknown -- the sort of rock that is faceless, replacing image with substance.

Dr. Dog are the inverse of that straight-up coin -- while they're just as detached from the modern scene in sound, they aren’t necessarily from Delta Spirit's bar band mold. Rather, Dr. Dog seem like five affable guys who dug through the used bins every day after school, discovering the best soul, pop, and rock LPs that the jocks and bubblegum gals left untouched. When they stuffed themselves full, the only way left was out. The hybrid they spew forth is one of surprise (can a modern band really sound this much like a classic rock station?) and comfort (no matter how immersed one is in the indie scene, they likely grew up with classic rock staples such as The Beatles, Neil Young, and Fleetwood Mac).

What Delta Spirit and Dr. Dog gave a sold out crowd in the tiny Seattle burrow of Ballard was a rock show devoid of any pretense -- one heavy on the old practice of engaging and entertaining a crowd. This was more than just the music, it was about the environment. The Tractor Tavern is usually reserved for the remnants of alt-country and grass roots folk. Rarely does it play host to anything outside those confines, that is, unless the bands involved can pry away hard earned money and have it deposited into bartender jars and tills. It just so happens that the PBR and whiskey sours were flowing freely thanks to the ramped rock of Delta Spirit.

The five-piece took the stage and proceeded to demonstrate why, despite their youth and relative obscurity, they command attention. It’s a lofty task to ask an up and coming act to play opener to a Dr. Dog crowd, more concerned with rehashing recent events with friends than paying attention to the unknown quotient onstage. It’s a nasty audience habit -- why pay good money to inhabit an overcrowded club and listen to a band you could care less about just to catch up on the latest gossip? Delta Spirit would have none of it. Brandishing their blend of blues rock, they quickly defeated the swells of inane conversation, warming up the crowd for the 60’s soul pop explosion of Dr. Dog.

When the Philly natives took the stage, the crowd was still in frenzy over Delta Spirit. The talk turned from yesterday’s news to friends asking each other “Can Dr. Dog top that?” The clusters of fans would be assured from song one (“The Old Days”) that Dr. Dog -- no matter how loud and powerful or quiet and understated Delta Spirit were -- were the kings of the night. Continuing to entertain the mesmerized and exuberant audience with selections from the group’s latest, Fate, everyone was soon caught up in the spectacle of it all. Sunglasses and brimmed hats could not hide the fact that the band truly loved playing to enthralled listeners who hung on every note as they seamlessly transitioned from song to song. The night ended with a few old favorites, including the sentimental dancer “My Old Ways,” before the crowd slowly crawled to the exit, tired from the warm, cramped club with loud voices speaking to ringing ears about how awesome both bands were. And for once, no one was exaggerating.

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