What is Australia known for? Kangaroos, boomerangs, AC/DC, and a beautiful countryside I can’t afford to visit! Well my friends, let me add one thing to that short list: Sick Puppies. This would be my second time seeing the Puppies in recent months. I can tell you that this performance vastly overshadowed the one I saw a few months back at Pointfest. Not that either sucked by any means, but the vibe at each show was the difference maker. At a festival, time crunches, crowd size, and music selection are all variables that effect a band’s brief time onstage. To say the least, this show at the Pageant was all Sick Puppies at their best. Shimon Moore, Emma Anzai, and Mark Goodwin are now considered rock and roll veterans as they have been making music professionally since 1997. Formed by a chance meeting in a high school music room, Emma and Shimon began the Puppies as a two-piece band. In 2000, at the urging of music photographer Robert Knight, the band moved to America. Current drummer Mark Goodwin was added to the band through a Craigslist ad. So as one can tell, this band has grown from some pretty unconventional roots but this is what it’s all about being in the right place at the right time and being seen by the right people.
Let’s fast forward to the here and now. After the band’s well-received 2011 release, Polar Opposite, it was time for the follow up, which brings us to Connect. The coverage of this show fell on the heels of the release of Connect, which was two days prior. Opening act Shaman’s Harvest gave the Pageant audience a proper warming with their brand of heavy southern rock. As with every show I have every attended, be it as a photographer or attendee, there is a certain anticipation before a show but tonight this anticipation was at an all-time high. Catching glimpses just under the black curtain that covered the stage, I could see the flashlights of crew members directing a pair of rock and roll Converse high tops. This only fueled my anticipation. I was so intently focused on those shoes and flashlights, I was totally surprised when the curtain pulled back and there were the Sick Puppies. After my quick three song photography limit it was time to take in the show with both eyes.
Mr. Moore probably summed the night best with some of his first words to the Puppies faithful, “the energy up here is fucking indescribable!” After a tremendous start and a mixture of old and new songs, the Puppies took a break to set up the stage for an intimate, two-song acoustic set, which emphasized the title of the new album, Connect, and that they did with this set. As the band finished the acoustic set and were returning to their amped-up instruments, the crew took time out to celebrate Mark Goodwin’s birthday with a flaming cake and a happy birthday chorus from 2000+ fans. Back to rocking even better than the first half, the band played a great shout along from the new album, “Gunfight”, which I might add the crowd knew word for word. Bringing it up one more notch the Puppies launched into a bouncing version of “Pitiful”.
As Sick Puppies left the stage to wait for the audience to work themselves into a frenzy for the impending encore, a familiar chant arose, “We want Puppies”, followed by a rapid succession of hand claps that filled the air of the Pageant. For those not familiar with this chant, reference St. Louis Blues hockey and the phrase, “We want Tacos!” When Shimon returned to the stage he asked, “What the fuck was that shit? We have never had that happen before! Is someone filming this shit?” Welcome to St. Louis, Shimon, we have our own little quirks but we’re fun! After composing himself, Shimon, along with the band, blew the roof off the joint with the grand finale, “You’re Going Down”. Following their thorough rocking of STL, the house lights came up and the house music played Men at Work’s “Land Down Under” and I accepted the fact I had just seen one sick show, pun intended. Thanks to Robert Knight and Paul Stepanek for directing me to Ken Phillips for this show and to the Sick Puppies for rocking my world. Pictures of the show are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson