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Psych-rockers Dr. Dog live for the thrill of the life they lead



Dr. Dog with Here We Go Magic and O Fidelis
7 p.m. Wednesday
ACM@UCO Performance Lab
323 E. Sheridan

For most, being a musician means financial rewards are meager. It requires a certain spirit to keep it up. But psychedelic Philadelphia quintet Dr. Dog has the right attitude, a celebratory vibe that comes out in the shows among the fervid grassroots following it's built the last dozen years.

"The idea behind the band was that it was just going to be a blast," said bassist Toby Leaman. "(Guitarist Scott McMicken) and I had been playing together in a million different bands. At the time, I think we were in six to seven bands between us, and they all had their little problems. Somebody wasn't super into the band, or people wanted to go in a different direction, and any kind of little bullshit that comes up. So the idea with this band was to make it so positive and absurd, too. The absurdity of it all is always a driving force."

The attitude is infectious from ringing melodies " drawn from The Beatles and The Zombies " to rich, Beach Boys harmonies and rollicking energy with which they're delivered.

Dr. Dog's latest album, "Shame, Shame," follows the blueprint of the prior records' hook-laden psych-pop. However, this one's a bit darker, with shadows creeping around the edges.

One track, "Stranger," was inspired by David Bowie's comment in some interview Leamon read that "he had no emotions and no feelings anymore because he did so much coke. He might have been exaggerating, but I always think about that: where he's done everything, been so decadent that he's not really reflecting or gaining any insight about the fact that he's a stranger with a stranger heart. He doesn't even know."

It's emblematic of a subtle change in approach by Dr. Dog, which plays tonight at ACM@UCO Performance Lab. In the past, the members gilded their doleful thoughts with pretty melodies. This time, they let more of the gloom seep into the music.

"That was definitely a conscious decision on our part," Leamon said. "Our lyrics have always sort of been on the darker side.  And we weren't so much masking it as thinking the pairing of the two was kind of interesting. That's partly why this record sounds a little darker, because the tones and the instrumentation and the whole vibe of the songs are more centered on whatever the lyrics are doing."

Dr. Dog forges on, driven less by any desire for large-bore success " although "Shame, Shame" reached No. 44 on Billboard " than by the simple joy of performing.

"It's become our life " this is what we do. Even when we had zero success, zero fans, nobody had heard our stuff, and we were probably pretty terrible, there was never any point in my thinking that we weren't going to be doing it," Leamon said. "It is a strange way to think about life: Living the kind of life where the goal is creating something, not just doing something. But it's a good way to live." "Chris Parker

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