After an anxiety-filled hour slugging across LA freeways, we finally made it to the comfortable confines of the astounding 1,200 capacity Ford Amphitheatre, walking in just minutes before the headliners took the stage (heard raves about opening band Cotton Jones’ set). This magical Hollywood nook is truly a hidden gem of the LA area with excellent sight lines in every seat, great sound, natural surroundings, dramatic architecture, and a BYOB policy. Very little not to like (except for aforementioned traffic situation – taking train next time) about this place and with one of my all-time favorite bands is playing on a Friday night, everything was in line for a memorable evening.

Maybe the band was stoked by the surroundings and playing a show in Hollywood, but the Philly band’s playing and stage presence seemed a bit more cinematic than usual. Bassist Toby Leaman’s raw, scowling vocals were in high supply and his intensity and charisma as a front man had the fans more-than-captivated by the end of the set.

I’ve said it countless times but it merits repeating: for my dollar, there is no rock band out there with a more consistently quality catalog of songs and live performances out there today than Dr. Dog. With each album (and the new Wild Race EP) the shows just keep better and better. Back in 2008, the comparisons to The Beatles and The Beach Boys were in high supply and nowadays there’s a nastier, less polished and rawer feel to the shows, drawing some overheard comparisons to bands like The Who and Leaman’s infused on-stage antics brought back a punk rock aesthetic that has been largely absent since the early days of the band. By any measure, this band continues to offer the total package for both avid fans and newcomers. Every single night.

Noteworthy song highlights included a wicked and poignant “Fate”, the rare “California” (no brainer there), “The Rabbit, The Bat and Reindeer” and “Vampire.”

Continue below for a photo gallery from the show.

Dr. Dog Wild Race EP

Dr. Dog - 'Wild Race' EP