After playing in Denver the previous night, the bands' trip to SLC took 12 hours instead of the usual eight or so. And while the nightmarish journey made for some good between-song banter for both, the harried load-in and 40-minute delay in the show time didn't seem to dim the spirits of the fans on hand.
More remarkably, both acts got their sound locked in relatively quickly, given the almost complete lack of a soundcheck.
Check that; Seattle's Moondoggies essentially used an epic, nearly 10-minute opener called "What Took So Long?" as their soundcheck. And by the end of that song, not only had the quartet gotten its sound together; they had put on a full display of the influences feeding their sound.
While the name suggests a goofball cover band in a surf town, the Moondoggies display a bit of Neil Young's Crazy Horse here and Creedence Clearwater Revival there. Three-part harmonies bring a dose of Crosby, Stills and Nash, and when they played one raucous, punky tune (not their strong suit), you could imagine these guys listened to a bit of Uncle Tupelo's country-punk blend years ago. A cover of The Band seemed possible at any moment.
The Moondoggies fit at a cross-section of sounds I love, and songs like "Black Shoe" and "'ol Blackbird" proved instantly gratifying. Singer Kevin Murphy reminded me of smoother Isaac Brock (less vocal hiccups, same flannel shirt), and Caleb Quick's keyboards rounded out the guitar/bass/drums core nicely. His soulful organ strokes adds a danceable element to songs that otherwise could come off as raw roots-rock and blues.
Fellow Seattle kids The Dutchess and The Duke offered a stark contrast, just a man and a woman on stools with acoustic guitars. Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison create an incredibly intimate vibe with their duets, often singing at barely a whisper but losing no power thanks to lacerating lyrics shining a light in some seriously dark emotional corners.
The State Room dance floor that had slowly filled during the Moondoggies emptied a bit early in the D&D set as people sat to focus on the duo's intense interplay. (City Weekly cohort Austen Diamond reports it filled back up by set's end; I bailed about six or seven songs in) Lortz and Morrison were charming between tunes, cracking jokes with the audience and each other, which helped the heavy songs go down.