One of the most intriguing small-scale tours careening down an interstate near you involves Dr. Dog, Apollo Sunshine, and The High Strung. Last night at the Croc, shackled by the strictures of a self-imposed midnight Monday curfew, I regrettably couldn't stick around for the headlining Dr. Dog, a flavor-of-the-year band that sort of reminds me of Money Mark. But their two onstage predecessors were pretty darn sharp, like a couple former Grade I stakes winners running on the undercard on Derby Day.
All beards, bones, and musical nonconformity, Apollo Sunshine's enigmatic set veered wildly from clean bluegrass harmony to Phishy percussive jams to Allman Brothers acid blues. Marvelously talented and projecting a somewhat cooler-than-thou air, Apollo Sunshine's set was hampered a bit by a bum speaker which wouldn't stop whirring loudly between songs. One solution to this problem would have been to minimize any noodling or banter during shifts, but that's just not these boys' style -- and they were none too keen on compromising their truly unique presentation over a little nettlesome feedback.
Opening the show was The High Strung (pictured), a Detroit trio that, maybe five years ago, was the Dr. Dog of that particular space in time. That they've sort of dropped off the hipster radar is of no concern to these guys; they've bided their time touring as vigorously as any act in the country, even embarking upon an ongoing public library tour that was featured on NPR's "This American Life." Recently, the band caught the interest of a New York-based documentarian, who was on hand to film the band's high-energy glam-punk blend of MC5, Destroyer, Velvet Underground, and vintage Bowie. They're a great band to get drunk and dance to. Unfortunately, they went on at 9:30, just as the Croc was beginning to fill.