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Dr. Dog unleashes a warm tide of sounds and styles at Crossroads KC show

Special to the Star

The music of Dr. Dog is ecumenical, a nondenominational mix that embraces a variety of styles from a wide swath of eras: pop, folk, soul and several flavors of rock.

Thursday night, the band from the outskirts of Philadelphia gave a crowd of about 1,000 at Crossroads KC a dose of its genre-hopping sound, trotting through a set list that featured songs from a catalog that goes back to the turn of the millennium.

They opened with “The Way the Lazy Do” from the “We All Belong” album, released in 2007. If there’s a standard Dr. Dog sound, it lies in songs like this: tuneful, organic, soulful and with enough quirks and odd turns, musically and vocally, to give it a unique personality.

They followed that with the jaunty “Broken Heart,” a rollicking, cynical treatise on how to avoid heartache: Don’t fall in love, and be skeptical of those who say they have.

Dr. Dog is touring on “The Psychedelic Swamp,” a revamped and remodeled version of the debut album they decided not to release more than 15 years ago. However, they played only a couple of its tracks, including “Bring My Baby Back,” a breezy song that recalls lo-fi and unvarnished indie-rock classics like the Flaming Lips’ “She Don’t Use Jelly.”

The rest of the set list tapped into the band’s seven other albums, featuring songs like “The Ark,” a track from “The Fate” album with a 1970s rock vibe that tackles the concept of blind faith — “God, he called for rain / So I built an ark / But no rain came”; “Mirror, Mirror,” a bright indie-rock number larded with harmonies and swinging to a heavy Wilco vibe; and “Shadow People,” another wobbly, melodic indie-pop song with a Flaming Lips resemblance (think of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”).

The crowd was heavily populated with diehards, fans who sang along to a set list stocked with B-sides and deep cuts, like “That Old Black Hole,” a poppy, groovy indie-rock number with a rousing chorus and enough funk in its pockets to induce both a loud sing-along and some uninhibited dancing throughout the venue.

Other songs on the set list: “The Breeze” “The ABCs,” “Ain’t It Strange.” “Too Weak to Ramble” and “Turning the Century.”

The show lasted a few clock ticks short of 90 minutes, but it was an hour and a half loaded with sentiments: joy, melancholy, nostalgia, reassurance. One of the closers was “Jackie Wants a Black Eye,” a homily that acknowledges life’s trials and tribulations but a reminder that we’re all on this spinning planet in search of the same things: “We’re all in it together now / As we fall apart / And we’re swapping little pieces / Of our broken hearts.”

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

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