Choose the Cover contest finalists Lelia Broussard and the Sheepdogs played an intimate double bill last night at Dominion NY, a small club in downtown Manhattan. Both bands have been extremely busy in the past week, from their battle of the bands at the Bonnaroo festival to their appearance on Wednesday night’s episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, but the both turned in sharp, fully committed sets that highlighted the passion and professionalism that took them to the top in this competition over the past few months.
Broussard – who had another gig lined up for later in the evening across town at the Rockwood Music Hall – hit the stage first, rocking her signature warpaint makeup and cheekily spritzing her bandmates and the audience with hairspray provided by contest sponsor Garnier Fructis. Once the band got going, they quickly locked into a tight pocket rhythm, with drummer Elliott Jacobson’s snapping snare hits adding a jolt of manic energy to Broussard’s winsome indie rock tunes. She’s a natural performer who is at her best when she makes bold moves, such as heading out into the center of the audience for an acoustic, unamplified song midway through the set, or tossing an unexpected Sonic Youth-style drumstick-along-the-guitar-strings noise burst into the middle of the peppy finale “Satellite.”
The first thing you notice when the Sheepdogs go on is that all the ladies in the room push up to the front. Their excitement was merited by a performance that emphasized the Saskatoon rockers’ knack for heavy grooves and dazzling guitar solos. As much as Broussard’s band emphasized danceable beats, the Sheepdogs reveled in melody, with each song building off the foundation of an instantly satisfying bass line. “We’re from up north, but our hearts live in the South,” frontman Ewan Currie said, introducing their tune “Southern Dreaming.” No kidding. All through the show, the guys channeled the sound of Southern rock greats like the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, while occasionally stretching out into psychedelic jams that owed more to early Led Zeppelin. As much as Broussard shined in a club setting, this band seemed like they’d be better suited to a festival setting where they could noodle and choogle for field full of happy stoners.
“I don’t think I should ask this question, but who here thinks we should be on the cover of Rolling Stone?,” Currie said near the end of the show. He was answered with hoots and hollers from the entire crowd, most especially the rowdy chicks up front. If you agree with this bunch or feel that Lelia Broussard should win it – along with a contract with Atlantic Records – you should vote for your favorite today.