The Moondoggies surprised the hell out of me last night: I assumed that they made their huge tidal-wave sound with two or three guitar players in addition to their keyboard player, but they don’t; it’s just four of them, wringing sweeping sounds out of guitar and bass and keyboards and drums, and it’s as slow-burn, big-finish compelling live as it is on Tidelands, which was one of my top 25 albums of last year. (If you haven’t picked it up yet, do it. They sound like Band of Horses, except filtered through the Northwest instead of the South.)
The Moondoggies, at least last night, augment with banjo and lap steel, players borrowed from openers Quiet Life (who, from what I heard from outside the 506 and the bar, were anything but quiet, and who sounded fantastic; wish I’d caught more of their set), and it deepens their already lovely sound into something even more complex — as a four piece, they are a great rock band with roots tendencies, but as a six piece, they were a great roots band that rocked hard. They’ve got hooks in both music and lyrics (the shattering chorus of “Lead Me On” is still rattling around in my head), frontman Kevin Murphy is awkwardly charismatic, and that’s all I want — can you rock? Can you break my heart?
They did a little of both at the 506; Tidelands is a huge and hopeful and heartbreaking album, and, like Ha Ha Tonka’s Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South, somehow manages to work in pieces live as well as it does as a whole recorded. They played some new stuff, as well, and if whatever they release next is as good as what I heard yesterday, their next album is going to be something to be reckoned with. I don’t know if they’re recording now, or planning to, but they are on tour currently, and you’ll regret it if you miss them.
Full photo set here.