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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Review: The Sheepdogs’ almost-honkey blues succeeded for the most part

    I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from The Sheepdogs. Their type of music isn’t my usual preference, as some of their songs teeter on the edge of honky-tonk, which I can’t stand. Sorry. 

    But the band’s music certainly has credible attributes that make The Sheepdogs very defined in their sound. I really developed a respect for The Sheepdogs after they played a great show at Club Congress.

    The show didn’t start nearly as well as it ended. First of all, there were very few people in attendance and that in itself made me a bit suspicious about how the rest of the night would go. 

    Without much of an introduction, the three-man band—each man with hair longer than mine— Radio Moscow started the show. Stylistically Radio Moscow remained pretty stagnant. Blues chords with the typical guitar solo that screamed, wailed and relied on fast 16th triplets at the upper end became very familiar.

    Although each musician obviously had technical skill, the band as a whole has some room to grow. Its song structures were usually fast-paced with great, raunchy vocals—credit where credit is due—but then broke down into a double-time with drum fills every other bar.

    I did appreciate the band’s blues influences, but it relied on them far too heavily. Radio Moscow’s performance lifted my hopes about The Sheepdogs some, but not much. 

    Club Congress seemed to fill a little more at this point, and the audience was becoming more varied, with people that looked like they were pushing 70 and a couple more “young’uns” like myself. 

    Yes, I got called a young’un. 

    Finally, The Sheepdogs took the stage, took a couple swigs of beer, made some Canadian jokes and started playing. 

    In my experience, seeing a band live is almost always better than listening to its recordings. I found this to be mostly true of The Sheepdogs. 

    Before committing to the band’s show, I listened to its albums and enjoyed most of their songs but wasn’t really impressed.  I lost interest in some of The Sheepdogs’ songs as I was listening to them. 

    This was not the case at Club Congress, and I was pleased to find that the band was very musically creative on stage. Many of the flourishes The Sheepdogs displayed so well live hadn’t translated in their recordings. 

    My respect for The Sheepdogs’ music grew as the night went on and they continued to impress me: beautiful harmonies, clean solos and stylistic changes. 

    There were a few highlights that demand some attention. The first would be Shamus Currie, or “Muthu F*ckin Shamus.” Currie, brother of lead singer Ewan, played the keys, adding bluesy organ overtones, backup vocals and the trombone. 

    The band was selling shirts that said “Muthu F*ckin Shamus” with a picture of a trombone. I didn’t understand it at the beginning of the night, but it makes complete sense now; he was a valuable addition to the band. 

    With that being said, I was really disappointed that The Sheepdogs didn’t take advantage of the trombone more. They only used it in one song. Sad.

    The other aspect of The Sheepdogs’ performance that I really appreciated was their musical creativity. I think rock, especially feel-good rock, can easily become mundane, and bands can start to sound very similar. The Sheepdogs were able to mostly, but not completely, avoid that issue. 

    The guitar players would double their solos over each other, which filled their sound out well. The drummer took advantage of his entire layout and manipulated different styles throughout the set. There were several other things that really made The Sheepdogs more than just a rock band, but there were still some moments that took me back a step.

    The entire night was sort of a flip-flop between whether I wanted to hear more of The Sheepdogs’ music. But alas I stuck it out, and was glad. The Sheepdogs’ show at Club Congress was an overall success and a new experience for me, but did not make me a die-hard fan.


    Follow Thea Van Gorp on Twitter.


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