Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Moroccan Sheepherders at the Stone Pony

I can't believe I'm posting this so late but I have been getting crushed at work lately. Anyway the Moroccan Sheepherders absolutely ROCKED on March 15th at the Stone Pony. They were sandwiched between Zelda Pinwheel and Unexplained Bacon. While "Zelda Pinwheel" was quite a surprise from a difficulty rating, I though the Sheepherders were by far the best of the three bands I saw. Unfortunately I had to bolt early but I don't think I could have taken much more "Unexplained Bacon". I'm old enough to have actually seen the Grateful Dead and I accept no substitutes. But seriously, The Sheepherders displayed the most unique sound the evening. I was grooving by the side of the stage and I was trying to catch glimpses of the other folks in the crowd. I think the 'herders had the first people out on the dance floor which since they went on pretty early, was impressive. Given another hour set, a properly lubricated audience, and I think they would have had packed the dance floor. Overall the set they played was perfect. You can listen to the set here. It isn't the live version but you'll get the idea. The band opened with Egyptian Strut. The main theme of the song is distinct and charged. The full length version of the song has a killer break with a desert/military maneuver/rap. Very apropos these days. The next song in the set was "Armageddon" Its complex, infinitely improvisationaly expandable, and its awesome to dance to. The tail end with the "Let's get out of the basement..." lyric nearly knocked me off my chair with laughter the first time I heard it. It's an inside joke. The band has been practicing in the bass players basement for a while. I'd like to dance to the 15 minute jam version of this song. Killer Moon was up next. It's an aggressive jam and a perfect follow up to Armageddon. It changed the mood and showed off the harder, darker edge of the bands music. It's a great instrumental tune. I think I like the live version of Baby Blue better than the one on the CD. I think it's something about the pacing and the way Craig, the bands mercurial drummer/vocalist's, voice sounds on the live version that make's it work better for me. For some reason it sounds more emotional to me that the CD version. It's mellow, ballad-y, and a bit trippy. Lot's of low-end frequencies too. I can't remember if Waterfall hit here or later but I thought that's when I saw Scott put down the bass and sit down at the djembe. I think I remember something groovy going on and I saw some more people getting off on the drum vibe. That, instrumental interlude, led into Blue Whale, which may have been my favorite tune of the night. What can you say. Excellent song, hippy tree-hugger lyrics, a great jazzy whale in peril break, a false ending, nautical pirate shanty melody, not to mention those big bass chords. This tune is the bomb. It's so catchy you can't stop singing it. To top it all off I think that was the best version of Moroccan Role I've heard live. ( Of course it was the only mroll I've heard live.) But seriously, what a nice way to end off the set. It was a killer, very aggressive, in your face tune. The new intro is an evocative, whirling melody. It leaves an impression on you and it does finish very big. All in all it was an excellent evening of music. The band's great showing earned them a spot for the The Great Bamboozle in Asbury Park. It's the weekend after Scottypaluza, where the band plays the 11:30pm-1:30am slot Friday night indoor stage, so its going to be a busy May for the band and their fans.


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