Sick Puppies @ Irving Plaza

MANHATTAN, NY—Shimon Moore and Emma Anzai met in 1997 at their high school music room in Sydney, Australia. They began jamming on some cover songs and by the end of the week, Anzai invited Moore to start a band with her. They added a drummer, became Sick Puppies, and began writing original songs.

To support their ambitions, Anzai worked as a telemarketer and Moore held a sandwich board advertising two-for-one shoes at an outdoor shopping mall. Through this income and with help from Shimon’s father, Sick Puppies recorded and released its debut EP, made a popular “free hugs” video and soon began playing local clubs. Rock photographer Robert Knight asked the fledgling band to be in his documentary, Rock Prophecies, and then persuaded Moore and Anzai to pursue their goals by relocating to Los Angeles, California. The band’s fourth studio album, Connect, was released in July 2013. The band presently consists of Moore on vocals and guitar, Anzai on bass and Mark Goodwin on drums.

At Irving Plaza on Feb. 24, Sick Puppies headlined Revolver magazine’s Hottest Chicks In Hard Rock Tour, which also featured Lacuna Coil, Eyes Set To Kill, and Cilver. The highlighted musician in Sick Puppies was not the woman, however, it was Shimon Moore, who dominated the band’s spotlight. As the Sick Puppies front person, he seemed to be equal parts vocalist, musician and cheerleader. Firstly, he was a dynamic vocalist, not necessarily due to an outstanding vocal range, but simply in vocal style. His voice was rather ordinary, but he sang earnestly, passionately and expressively. Secondly, Moore led the charge musically as the band’s sole guitar player in front of a rhythm section. He often moved away from the microphone to play extended guitar leads at center stage. Lastly, while the fans applauded Emma Anzai each time she moved to the edge of the stage for a bass riff, Moore commanded the spotlight for most of the show, speaking with the audience between and during the songs, acknowledging and appreciating the fan response, and encouraging the fans to sing, bounce, mosh or cheer. The crowd was putty in his hands.

As a unit, Sick Puppies performed a set that was as big as it was heavy. The trio often exploded from a bare arrangement into a massive wall of sound and then, having hammered the audience, regressed to a sparse simplicity. These skilful start-stop blasts filled the room and possibly raised the roof. The songs varied from mellow to hyper, atmospheric to epic. The set was built around choruses more than on instrumentation, but Goodwin’s bombastic percussion, Anzai’s slap bass style and Moore’s aggressive guitar licks more than filled out the segments between lyrics. Moving from dynamic to dynamic, Sick Puppies’ concert sounded like the soundtrack to a wrestling tournament.


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