Dr. Dog & Shakey Graves with Caroline Rose
WFPK Presents

Dr. Dog & Shakey Graves with Caroline Rose

Dr. Dog & Shakey Graves
Caroline Rose
All Ages
Dr. Dog and Shakey Graves with Caroline Rose

General Admission ADV $35 / $40

As part of the Coors Light Iroquois Amphitheater Concert Series

Produced by Production Simple and Live Nation


“I feel like I’m in a totally new band right now,” says Dr. Dog guitarist/singer ScottMcMicken. It’s a bold declaration considering he’s been co-fronting the beloved indieoutfit 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 justneeded to take a step back,” reflects bassist/singer Toby Leaman, who splits frontingand songwriting duties with McMicken. “It was important for all of us to figure out ifwe were actually doing what we wanted to be doing, or if we were just lettingmomentum 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, moreemotionally 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 ‘ThePsychedelic Swamp’ and giving it our full attention,” says McMicken, “but I thinkstepping 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 forthe Southern Poverty Law Center and walking away without any touring or press for amuch–needed break. That time apart proved to be invaluable, as it offered eachbandmember the opportunity to reflect and reevaluate, to challenge and confronttheir conceptions of the group and its possibilities, to ask the hard questions ofthemselves and each other. They’d achieved remarkable success—multiple Top 50albums; television performances on Letterman, Fallon, Conan, and more; criticalacclaim 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 differentartistic avenues. McMicken and Leaman each penned a mountain of songs on theirown, inspired by the liberty of writing without expectation or responsibility. When theband finally reunited to begin work on ‘Critical Equation,’ they did so with freshperspective. The distance had ironically brought them closer together, helping themlearn to communicate in more honest and open ways. As they worked through thechallenges 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 justtiptoe 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. Eventuallywe got to the deepest, most honest part of ourselves.”Typically, Dr. Dog would record themselves in their own studio, but one of therevelations from their break was that that brand of insularity had begun to feel morelimiting than empowering. With that in mind, they packed their bags and headed to LA to record ‘Critical Equation’ with producer/engineer Gus Seyffert (Beck, MichaelKiwanuka), 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 sceneopen,” explains Leaman. “We needed somebody to be the boss, somebody to be incharge of us in the studio. It’s not the way we’ve ever worked before, but we reallytrusted 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 andominous “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 wefinished playing the song, everybody could feel that something special just happened.”Despite the weighty self-reflection that led to its creation, ‘Critical Equation’ isperhaps the most playful entry in the Dr. Dog catalog. Even tracks that grapple withheartbreak—like the utterly contagious “True Love” and insanely catchy “HeartKiller”—are full of joy and humor, while the shuffling “Under The Wheels” finds afreedom and a lightness in surrendering to forces outside of your control. The recordcloses on a note of pure optimism with “Coming Out Of The Darkness,” a songMcMicken wrote at the end of the band’s break, just as they were first beginning todiscuss the future.“It’s singular among all the songs I’ve ever written because it’s completelyfunctional,” he explains. “It exists to take you from wherever you are and leave yousomewhere 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 makemusic that they loved with their friends, and to have fun doing it. Sometimes thesimplest 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.

Shakey Graves BIO

Alejandro Rose-Garcia (aka Shakey Graves) announced his newest album 'Can't Wake Up' (out now on Dualtone) with a simple message to his fans - “Next album. New sound. Sell your suspenders."

That tongue-in-cheek statement, though, was a genuine attempt to prepare his followers for a major sonic shift for the Texas songwriter, who got his start performing as a one-man band, culminating with an Americana Music Awards win for "Emerging Artist of the Year" behind his breakout full-length album, 'And The War Came.'

Now armed with a full band, Rose-Garcia leaves behind much of that stripped-down, folk-y sound. 'Can't Wake Up' takes his songwriting in a "decidedly bigger direction" full of "lush indie compositions" (Consequence of Sound), drawing on another set of his musical influences, ranging from the Beatles and Harry Nilsson to Elliott Smith, Broken Social Scene, Built to Spill and other '90s indie rock bands.

Sitting down with Thrasher Magazine, Rose-Garcia explained what sparked the change in creative direction. "To get your head above water, you have to have an identity. I wore a cowboy hat and played a suitcase drum. There are tons of people who still imagine me as that guy, because that's the only thing they've seen," he admits. But on this album, he says, "I made something that I want to listen to."

The response so far proves that it was a worthwhile risk. As NPR Music writer Nina Corcoran put it, he "gambles with the very formula that brought him fame," adding that "he pulls it off in large part due to his storytelling prowess; these songs would be welcoming, even enthralling, in any style."

Billboard was struck by Rose-Garcia's knack for storytelling, calling the album "a lyrical powder keg," while Brooklyn Vegan said it "ditches the roots rock vibe he’s been known for in favor of something weirder," adding "it's not the Shakey Graves you’re used to at all, and it’s very worth a listen."

With a road-tested group of musicians and a hand-built stage set up complete with psychedelic lighting and props, Shakey Graves' live show has grown into something much bigger, too. "After smashing his mold on 'Can't Wake Up,' Shakey Graves also revolutionized his live show," said the Austin Chronicle, describing a recent hometown set as "a seamless and compelling home run of a performance."

"Shakey Graves' latest reinvention is also his best," said the Dallas Observer. "[He's] never sounded freer, weirder or more in touch with his skill set."

More press for 'Can't Wake Up':"Sublime, spooky...radical dreampop...portrait of an inner fantasy life." - UNCUT (UK)

"A rewarding left-turn...thoroughly enjoyable. Despite reports to the contrary, the rock genre is not only not on its last legs in 2018, it’s thriving quite nicely." - UPROXX

"Exceptional...subverts presumptions." - PopMatters

"Rose-Garcia takes listeners deep on a trip inside his psyche...genre-melding." - CBC Radio (Canada)

Venue Information:
Iroquois Amphitheater
1080 Amphitheater Rd
Louisville, KY, 40214