Well, that was interesting.
Philly favorites Dr. Dog completed their four-night Swamp Is On run at Union Transfer this weekend and we were in the house for the show opener on Wednesday. In conjunction with the Pig Iron Theatre Company and as part of the Fringe Arts Festival, the band brought their long-lost, self-recorded album Psychedelic Swamp to life this week at Union Transfer.
When this run was announced a few months back, no one was clear on what to expect; the lack of clarity remained throughout the entire performance leaving a capacity crowd both confused and anxious, in the best ways. The performance art piece featured the band as characters in the story as they played tunes off Swamp that they have never played live in its entirety.
Attempting to describe the performance will do it no justice. In short, the story goes that Dr. Dog was involved in an experiment to help find the mystical Psychedelic Swamp by translating a cassette tape into music – and it was as strange as it sounds. The production and stage set up was considerable and the band looked comfortable in character (even doing some choreographed dancing).
As the performance wrapped up, the band left the room through the crowd on a boat and left with them a lot of questions. The main one being, “What the hell did I just watch?” I am not going to pretend to be a performance art expert, but the show was phenomenal and the band was incredibly impressive. The music fit in seamlessly with the performance and it was clear that Dr. Dog played a large role in its development.
The performance only emphasized the music. It’s dark and murky while still containing Dr. Dog’s patented psychedelic pop sound, just a bit more opaque. This sensory-filled experience is one that only a band as unique and creative as Dr. Dog could pull off. Finding time for projects such as this one in between touring and recording is difficult. But Dr. Dog fans should be glad that this music was resurrected for this one of a kind event. The crowd, including The Districts’ Rob Grote, was appreciative to be a part of something so special.
After a break, the band came back for a full 90-minute headlining set. The set list pulled mostly from Be The Void and B-Room, was full of fan favorites and they finished out the encore with rarity “Fuck It.” The set was tight as ever and it felt as if the band was thanking the hometown crowd for giving them a chance to perform this experiment. Though the crowd should have been thanking them for resurfacing music that was thought to be lost at the bottom of the proverbial psychedelic swamp.
More Photos Here (Article by Adam, Photos by Kat)
The Old Black Hole
How Long Must I Wait Hang On
The Old Days
Be The Void
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Heart It Races (Architecture in Helsinki cover as made famous by Dr. Dog)
Too Weak to Ramble