Sick Puppies are a three-piece band from Australia who have been steadily climbing the charts since their major label debut, Dressed Up As Life in 2007. On the strength of newest release Connect, the band rolled into Dallas last week to rock the House of Blues with special guests Redlight King and Charming Liars. I only got to see two of the bands, (sorry, Redlight King!) so here goes:
First up was Charming Liars. A young five-piece from London, England, this band has it all: looks, stage presence, and most important of all…SONGS!! Hook-laden, kickass rock and roll is what these guys specialize in, and they had everyone at HOB eating out of their collective hands, none more so than singer Charlie Cosser, who knows how to work a room and get a crowd into it. I predict big things for these guys, who could not have been any nicer at the merch table, talking with everyone and signing CDs, posters, the works. Look for my interview with the band in the coming weeks.
After some running around frantically trying to feed the meters, we got back in for Sick Puppies. Opening with “Die to Save You” from Connect, singer/guitarist Shim Moore, bassist Emma Anzai, and drummer Mark Goodwin were on and popping right from the start. “Survive” and “Cancer” kept the foot on the gas, and ramped up the energy in the room. Emma seems to be everywhere at once, stopping only to sing her parts at the mic. The rest of the time she’s headbanging, pounding her bass, and just a whirlwind of energy.
New song “There’s No Going Back” slowed things down just for a moment before the band launched into crowd favorite (mine, too) “Odd One” from 2009’s Tri-Polar. Emma took a moment to introduce the song and send a message that it’s ok to be different, and just to be yourself in this world. In this day and age, kids need to hear that now more than ever, quite frankly. It’s simply a beautiful song, and live it was very moving. “Riptide” and “Maybe” from the same album also got some of the loudest cheers of the evening, due to the way Shim delivers his lines. He sincerely thanked those in attendance several times, and really got us all revved up all night long.
The acoustic guitar-fueled title track “Connect” was for sure another highlight for me, as it’s not only my favorite on the record, it just calls to mind driving in the summertime with the top down. Looking around, I saw a LOT of people singing every word to it. Sick Puppies have some serious fans, that’s for sure. “War” turned up the jets again before the socio-political satire of “Gunfight” used tongue-in-cheek humor to call some famous/infamous people out on the carpet. This one’s another gem, no question.
The band reached way back to 2001 for “Nothing Really Matters”, another fast rocker to close out their main set, which was a pleasant surprise. For the encores, Shim started out on the slower side again for “All the Same” before kicking into high gear for “Walking Away”, and finally “You’re Going Down”. This was the perfect one-two punch to end the evening, and I left the House of Blues sufficiently rocked, and ready for the next time they come back to town. I advise all of you to catch them if you can, you won’t be disappointed.
– Originally published in Jam Magazine, September 21, 2013