Dr. Dog

1% Productions Presents

Dr. Dog

The Nude Party

Sun 2/24/19

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm (event ends at 11:00 pm)

$25 ADV/$28 DOS

This event is all ages

Dr. Dog
Dr. Dog
“I feel like I’m in a totally new band right now,” says Dr. Dog guitarist/singer Scott McMicken. It’s a bold declaration considering he’s been co-fronting the beloved indie outfit for a decade-and-a-half, but it cuts straight to the heart of the intense and transformative experience behind the group’s brilliant new album, ‘Critical Equation.’ The most infectious and adventurous collection Dr. Dog has laid to tape yet, the record was born from a journey of doubt and discovery, a heavy, sometimes painful reckoning that ultimately brought the band closer together with more strength and clarity than ever before. Call it an existential awakening, call it a dark night of the soul, whatever it was, it fueled one of the most fertile creative periods in the group’s history and forced them to confront that timeless question: what do we really want?
“We’d been touring and making records for our entire adult lives, and I think we just needed to take a step back,” reflects bassist/singer Toby Leaman, who splits fronting and songwriting duties with McMicken. “It was important for all of us to figure out if we were actually doing what we wanted to be doing, or if we were just letting momentum carry us down this path we’d always been on.”
The path to ‘Critical Equation’ was an unusual one for the Philadelphia five-piece (McMicken, Leaman, guitarist Frank McElroy, keyboardist Zach Miller, and drummer Eric Slick), and it stretches all the way back to 2014, when the band completed work on an album titled ‘Abandoned Mansion.’ Instead of releasing the record the following year as planned, they temporarily shelved it in favor of an opportunity to partner with the celebrated Pig Iron Theatre Company on a reimagining of ‘The Psychedelic Swamp,’ a long lost McMicken-Leaman collaboration that actually predated Dr. Dog’s debut album. The resulting theatrical/concert performance premiered at the Philly Fringe Festival, and the accompanying LP earned rave reviews, with NPR hailing it as “a concept album that wanders and sprawls to absorbing effect” and Under The Radar swooning for its “unmistakably sublime harmonies.” Despite representing something of a Rosetta Stone for Dr. Dog, the album also marked a major departure, with elaborate production and experimental arrangements that broke from the simpler, more emotionally direct studio sound they’d been gravitating towards over the years. Rather than the start of a new chapter, ‘The Psychedelic Swamp’ seemed to symbolize the closing of a circle, which made it an ideal catalyst for some serious soul searching.
“We were all really satisfied to close 14 years of history by finally revisiting ‘The Psychedelic Swamp’ and giving it our full attention,” says McMicken, “but I think stepping out of our natural evolution definitely taxed us. We decided we should put ‘Abandoned Mansion’ out and just go our separate ways for six or seven months.”
They released the album with little fanfare, posting it to Bandcamp as a benefit for the Southern Poverty Law Center and walking away without any touring or press for a much–needed break. That time apart proved to be invaluable, as it offered each bandmember the opportunity to reflect and reevaluate, to challenge and confront their conceptions of the group and its possibilities, to ask the hard questions of themselves and each other. They’d achieved remarkable success—multiple Top 50 albums; television performances on Letterman, Fallon, Conan, and more; critical acclaim everywhere from the NY Times to Rolling Stone; massive festival appearances around the world; major tours with the likes of My Morning Jacket, M Ward, and The Lumineers; countless sold-out headline shows—but none of it mattered if they couldn’t answer that nagging question: what do we really want?
Some bandmembers used the break to grow their families, others to explore different
artistic avenues. McMicken and Leaman each penned a mountain of songs on their own, inspired by the liberty of writing without expectation or responsibility. When the band finally reunited to begin work on ‘Critical Equation,’ they did so with fresh perspective. The distance had ironically brought them closer together, helping them learn to communicate in more honest and open ways. As they worked through the challenges and growing pains inherent in rewiring the foundation of any relationship, they found themselves more excited and inspired than ever before.
“We had to tear it apart in order to rebuild it,” explains McMicken. “At first, we’d just tiptoe into things and gently peel back a layer, but once we’d peeled back that layer, we’d find that we’d accessed an even deeper layer, and again and again. Eventually we got to the deepest, most honest part of ourselves.”
Typically, Dr. Dog would record themselves in their own studio, but one of the revelations from their break was that that brand of insularity had begun to feel more limiting than empowering. With that in mind, they packed their bags and headed to LA to record ‘Critical Equation’ with producer/engineer Gus Seyffert (Beck, Michael Kiwanuka), who served as something of a group therapist, whether he knew it or not.
“One of the big conclusions we came to was that we’ve got to blow this whole scene open,” explains Leaman. “We needed somebody to be the boss, somebody to be in charge of us in the studio. It’s not the way we’ve ever worked before, but we really trusted Gus.”
One listen to ‘Critical Equation’ and it’s clear that the decision paid off in spades. Recorded to 16-track analog tape, the album opens with the equally lilting and ominous “Listening In,” a track which pairs Dr. Dog’s signature blend of quirky 60’s pop and fuzzy 70’s rock with Seyffert’s willingness to tear their songs wide open. On “Go Out Fighting,” a vintage Hammond organ gives way to blistering electric guitar as McMicken sings a mantra of perseverance, while the dreamy “Buzzing In The Light” finds Leaman contemplating the mysteries of universe with gorgeously layered harmonies, and the slow-burning title track strips away everything but the vitality of the band’s live show in its rawest form.
“The take on the record was our first take in the studio,” says McMicken. “When we finished playing the song, everybody could feel that something special just happened.”
Despite the weighty self-reflection that led to its creation, ‘Critical Equation’ is perhaps the most playful entry in the Dr. Dog catalog. Even tracks that grapple with heartbreak—like the utterly contagious “True Love” and insanely catchy “Heart Killer”—are full of joy and humor, while the shuffling “Under The Wheels” finds a freedom and a lightness in surrendering to forces outside of your control. The record closes on a note of pure optimism with “Coming Out Of The Darkness,” a song McMicken wrote at the end of the band’s break, just as they were first beginning to discuss the future.
“It’s singular among all the songs I’ve ever written because it’s completely functional,” he explains. “It exists to take you from wherever you are and leave you somewhere better, and that felt poetically perfect for this phase of the band.”
In the end, it turns out that what the group really wanted was fairly simple: to make music that they loved with their friends, and to have fun doing it. Sometimes the simplest things can become more complicated than we ever imagined, but the band’s journey here proves that they’re always worth fighting for. It’s a rare thing to be able to say in this life, but with ‘Critical Equation,’ Dr. Dog got exactly what they wanted

and a whole lot more.
The Nude Party
The Nude Party
Despite rock’n’roll’s rapidly waning role in mainstream culture, thousands upon thousands of rock groups currently occupy our nightclubs, bandwidth, and brainspace with their performance, recording, and Bandcamping. And while the ubiquity of these projects crowd 2018’s musical landscape, from Highland Park to Bushwick and all points in between, the authentic rock’n’roll band is an endangered species. While any musician with wifi can actualize a rock group in a matter of minutes, a band, in the words of one of our great contemporary philosophers Ian Svenonius, is “about an ideology, a way of life, an aesthetic.”

The Nude Party is one of the last of these aggregations - an inseparable gang of blood brothers bonded by a musical mission indistinguishable from their friendship. The band’s psychic and effortless musical communication comes from learning how to play their instruments together since their teens, rooming together in house after house for six years, and developing their sound and aesthetic through literal nude partying together.

The members came together in the freshman dormitories of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina in 2012. Patton Magee (lead vocals, guitar), and later Austin Brose (percussion, vocals), linked up with childhood friends Connor Mikita (drums) and Alec Castillo (bass guitar, vocals), and stepbrothers Shaun Couture (lead guitar, vocals) and Don Merrill (organ/piano, vocals). The following summer, with the shimmer of The Kinks, Velvet Underground, and other still-unsurpassed classic rock masterpieces as their soundtrack, the young men moved into a lake house outside of town, began acquiring and learning to play instruments, and jamming on rudimentary riffs. Friends came by the lake house to swim and canoe and party and soon ritual nudity was a part of the festivities.

When the fall semester came around the friends moved into a house in Boone and the jamming continued in the basement on a nightly basis. During this time the Dionysian Adamite sextet began developing a following as the house band at a notorious Boone party palace referred to as the 505 House. The bare honesty of their performances was contagious and their audience also started partying au naturel. While these traditions may appear risqué to the casual observer, the band explains, “These weren't orgies, they weren’t sexual even. It was just kind of a wild exhibitionism that we felt gave us freedom.”

As the informal aggregation of musicians became a defined unit, and were offered gigs outside of the 505 House, they had now become a proper band and thus needed a name. Best known around the campus as “the naked party band,” they chose to call their group simply “The Nude Party.” Ironically, since playing in their birthday suits was illegal in the bars and clubs of this next step of their career, The Nude Party began playing clothed as soon as they were christened.

By 2014, living in a bigger more isolated house, known as “The Nude Ranch” by townies, the band met Black Lips’ Oakley Munson at a Night Beats show in Charlotte and before long the drummer became their mentor. He recorded the band’s “Hot Tub” EP and the band began
honing their craft as incessant road warriors in the national market.

2018 finds the band living with Munson in the Catskills. Their prolific performance schedule has built a substantial following Brooklyn and beyond and they’ve just completed their first proper LP – the culmination of six years of experimentation and refinement of material. When the band’s much-anticipated self-titled debut drops July 6 on New West Records, there will be no more war or famine or social injustice and the entire planet will join together in one big Nude Party.
Venue Information:
Slowdown - Main Room
729 North 14th Street
Omaha, NE, 68102-4702
http://www.theslowdown.com/