The Lumineers and Dr. Dog brought their joyous circus of a show to New Orleans’ Lakefront Arena last Wednesday. The two young bands have been touring together since way back in April, and frequent collaborations throughout the night made it abundantly clear these guys know each others’ songs inside and out. The nearly full arena was mostly there for The Lumineers, but Dr. Dog put on a high-energy set that definitely won over some new fans.
Depending on who you ask, Dr. Dog are either the best kept secret in modern rock and roll or just some band with a funny name. The Philadelphia band has been releasing consistently great albums (most recently B-Room) since 2002, and their relentless touring schedule has forged them into one of the best live acts out there. The guys are no strangers to New Orleans, either, having released their breakthrough albums on NOLA’s own Park the Van records.
Last week’s set drew heavily from B-Room, including standout tracks “Broken Heart” and “The Truth,” both of which were injected with some fresh energy not heard on record. Older tracks “The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer” and “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” drew big cheers from the longtime fans in the crowd and likely convinced the band to come back around in February (when they headline the Civic Theatre). Guitarist Frank McElroy was sick for the show, but somehow the band’s merch guy managed to fill in without missing a note; a further testament to the overall professionalism of this outfit. McElroy managed to rejoin the band for their final song, the raucous “Lonesome,” and closed the set on a high note that The Lumineers would appropriately pick right up on.
The Lumineers have had a whirlwind year that brought them from house shows in Denver to filling arenas around the country with barely enough time to blink. Their songs are perfectly suited for the big rooms they’re now playing, with their endless energy and big sing along choruses. All five members of the band were constantly moving around the stage and playing like their lives depended on it as they flew through the tracks from their debut album, The Lumineers.
The set included some choice covers, including a spooky reading of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” as well as a new song that will surely be released on their eagerly awaited second album. “Ho Hey,” the song that blew them up back in early 2012, was taken care of early on in the set and the crowd loved every second of it. Most fans respected frontman Wesley Schultz’s request to put their phones away during the hit single, making the giant sing a long feel a little more special. About halfway through the set, the band made their way into the middle of the crowd to form a circle and play a few “unplugged” songs. As the accordion player precariously climbed up to the nosebleeds, the band on the ground gave a glimpse of what their early shows must have been like.
The two bands clearly enjoyed each others’ company, and managed to help each other out with some percussion and guitar strums that added to the communal feel of the night. As The Lumineers traverse further into the pop music stratosphere, it’s comforting to know they’re taking a hard-working band like Dr. Dog along for the ride. Their joint tour is winding down, with The Lumineers heading across the pond for a string of shows starting in France and Dr. Dog embarking on an extensive headlining tour that will take them cross country (dates below). Here’s hoping these kindred spirits will share the stage again soon.