As many saw from the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, the Bluegrass state has been getting its share of showers. The rain continued on Sunday, but it didn’t affect the patrons of Buster’s on Cinco De Mayo.
For two weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby, the entire state gets its party on. With many events to take part in, the bourbon flows like the mighty Mississippi River and the annual celebration of Spring and horse racing causes just as much joy as it does heartaches. For those in Lexington, KY, we had a great reason to wash away our money troubles, Buster’s brought in Australian rockers Sick Puppies to rock us back into shape and help us celebrate Cinco De Mayo.
The Die Nasties were the openers on the bill. Hailing from Nashville, TN, the band has all the right tools to be succesful. Vocalist Katie Kerkhover clad in a sleeveless, spiked leather jacket and matching pants, will undoubtedly evoke images of a blonde Lzzy Hale from Halestorm. Make no mistake though, Katie is no copycat. She wielded her axe with the best of them, all the while handling the vocal duties, and keeping the crowd enthused. For me, their music doesn’t quite have the hard edge of say Halestorm, it’s a bit more on the alternative side with pop vocals. The band is clearly talented, but in what seemed to be a recurring theme for about half the night, the crowd’s energy was a little weak. I blame the Derby.
After a quick change over, Spill The Blood by Slayer rang out over the PA system at Buster’s. My thoughts immediately went to the entire Slayer family and specifically Jeff Hanneman’s family. It was a subtle, but much respected tribute for the fallen axe legend. Props to Sick Puppies for the simple reminder.
Opening the set for Sick Puppies was War. The high energy tune set the tone for what was an enthusiastic set from the modern rockers. After being holed up in the studio writing their next record, Sick Puppies were seemingly just as excited to play for the fans as the fans were to see them.
Next, we were thrown a curveball. Throwing in a Foo Fighters cover was honestly the last thing I expected to hear from a band that has been off the road for months. Especially the second song of the night. But with some technical issues happening behind the scenes, that’s exactly what we got. Busting out All My Life, Sick Puppies made the song sound as if it were written for them. I was pleasantly surprised and from the sound of the crowd, they were as well.
As the issues were still lingering, vocalist/guitarist Shim Moore decided it was better to push forward than stall the show. So he began what turned out to be a semi-acoustic version of the song that put the band on the map, All The Same. The crowd responded pretty well, but I could sense that Shim simply wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more and I could see it in his eyes as I left from behind the barricade.
Let’s just say that my hunch was right. Cancer was the next song on agenda and it was one of the highlights of the set for me. The high energy song was the pivotal moment in the show when the band decided it was time to pick up the intensity and push the crowd. This was also the first song that I really concentrated on bassist Emma Anzai’s intricate playing. I knew she was good, but DAMN! I had no idea just how good. She blew me away on this song and I was mesmerized a few more times as the set progressed.
The band rolled through My World and Survive and as I mentioned, Emma mesmerized me a few times with her playing. When she kicked off Odd One, the crowd soon realized what I did. The song was fantastic live and it was the first time in the set that featured her doing more vocals. Which led perfectly into the new song that they played next. I never heard the name of the song, but since Shim told me in our interview (which you can read here) that they would be playing their upcoming single There’s No Going Back, one would assume this was it. The verses in the song were some of the heaviest of the night, and the chorus featured Emma singing a bit more. From what I heard, the song is very much in the vein of many of Sick Puppies hits and will do very well at radio. The crowd response was completely positive in my
eyes, errr ears. I can’t wait to hear the single when it hits radio on May 20th.
Shim declared, “This is for all the Ladies in the house“, as they broke into the massive hit Maybe. The song received probably the biggest sing-a-long of the night and was clearly a highlight for many. Still, it seemed as if Shim wasn’t completely satisfied with the crowd participation. He began pushing, almost badgering the crowd to give more. As Emma and drummer Mark Goodwin kept a steady beat. Shim said, “Everyone move closer. Bring up the house lights. You’re twice as loud when the lights are on you. You get to be the rock stars. Step up closer. Step up. Step up! Step up! I’m serious, you paid good fucking money for your ticket and you’re getting ripped off by your own fucking ego. Step up! Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to get it on. We are about to get it on. Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to put both of your hands in the sky. Keep them up. Keep them up. Now put your hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you. I don’t care if you don’t know them. I don’t care if they’re sweaty or they smell shit. They probably do. It’s a Sick Puppies show, if you don’t then you’re doing something wrong. Now, when I say we are going to get the fuck up. Let’s use each other for leverage. Let’s have a bounce off.” As the band kicked into Nothing Really Matters from their debut album, Shim screamed at the top of his lungs and all hell broke loose. “GET THE FUCK UP! Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!” Finally, the crowd was fully alive and giving just as good they were getting. By far the oldest song in the setlist, the band each took a moment to play a small solo section and set the table for the next big hit, Riptide.
Riptide was one of the most energetic of the night, I’d imagine the push from the previous song had a lot to do with that. Seemingly having the crowd finally where he wanted them, Shim took a moment to say, “You guys have fucked me up. We’ve been off tour for way too long.” A reminder of just how much stamina it takes to tour and give it your all every night.
After a great rendition of Pitiful, the band decided to play another new song. This song was unlike anything that I’ve heard previously from the Sick Puppies. The song title again wasn’t spoken, but from what I can gather, it will be titled Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight or possibly Gunfight. It was a politically charged tune that documented many plights that have affected the world. Such as the Native Americans losing their land to the government, the protests in Tiananmen Square, iPhone sweatshops and a few others. It was a heavy tune overall, and if it’s any indication of the growth from a songwriting perspective, fans have a lot to look forward to with the new album Connect.
Ending the night was the heavy tune You’re Going Down. With seemingly every head banging, the band brought the night around full circle. On a night that began with little crowd participation, it was clearly obvious that the Sick Puppies had done their job and won over the Sunday night crowd in Lexington.
Sick Puppies new album Connect is set to be released on July 16th.
Preview or purchase Tri-Polar below:
Check out the video for Maybe below:
Check out the video for Riptide below: