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Rival Sons & the Sheepdogs Kick Out the Jams

Rival Sons and the Sheepdogs brought the house down Saturday night (4/27) at the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln!

Before I get into Rival Sons, I have to mention the killer opening act the Sheepdogs. As soon as the band started to play I felt like I was transported to Alabama in the late 70s. The band’s clothes and hair looked like they were straight out of Urban Cowboy. Many of the songs had a retro feel, but they were also strangely familiar. With bright guitars and excellent story telling I was reminded of the Allman brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I could also tell these dudes were trying to stand on their own. With songs about “Southern Dreamin” and “Must be Saturday Night” they set the tone for the evening perfectly.


After playing for a good 45 minutes, the Sheepdogs left the stage to thunderous applause. I’m sure they could easily fill the Waiting Room or maybe even Sokol should they ever roll through Omaha. Lead singer Ewen Currie mentioned that the Sheepdogs played Omaha back in 2011 and they were happy to be back in Nebraska. The weather was cold and rainy, so it reminded them of home. You would think with their brand of southern fried rock these guys would be straight out of Alabama, but I was surprised to learn they are from Canada! Who knew? Alabama or not, the Sheepdogs know how to lay down a tasty lick.

Listen to these guys enough and it won’t be long before you find yourself scrolling through Craigslist for an El Camino or putting some fringe tassels on a denim jacket.

The Sheepdogs’ latest album Changing Colours” is available now.

The Sheepdogs were a tough act to follow, but after a short break, the lights went down and a black backdrop appeared. Sounds of rain and thunder pulsed through the speakers. Images of a giant skeleton dog shined on the screen. Soon, a heart inside the dog’s chest started to beat. As the heart beat grew louder and louder the dog started to growl. You could feel the electricity in the room as the crowd waited for the band’s arrival.

Under strobing lights, Rival Sons stepped on stage. The room erupted with excitement to the sounds of pounding drums and ripping guitars. Lead singer Jay Buchanan was like Jim Morrison reborn! He had more swagger than Jagger! Guitarist Scott Holiday was rockin in leather pants and dark sunglasses, and bassist Dave Beste was laying down the dirty groove.


Rival Sons lead singer Jay Buchanan

Sometimes you see a band who plays rock music, and other times you see a ROCK band. This would definitely be the latter. These guys weren’t messing around. Rival Sons was kicking butt and taking names! Right out of the gate there were wicked solos, fierce drums, and shredding vocals.


Rival Sons guitarist Scott Holiday

Rival Sons opened the set with “Back in the Woods” from the band’s latest release”Feral Roots,” before rolling into another new track “Sugar on the Bone.” After about four songs, the band slowed things down a bit with the ballad “Jordan.” Jay Buchanan explained that he was a bit self conscious when he wrote the song, since it didn’t really fit with the band’s typical hard rock sound. But he’s since received hundreds of messages from fans thanking him for writing it, as it helped them through some tough times in their lives.


Rival Sons bassist Dave Beste

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I also have to note, this was a special show for Rival Sons, as bass player Dave Beste claims Lincoln, Nebraska as his hometown! Several of Dave’s family members were in attendance and the band was very thankful for all the support.

I talked to several folks who have followed Rival Sons for some time and they were all excited to hear the new tracks from “Feral Roots” live. There’s nothing like hearing a new record live for the first time, especially if you’ve lived with the music for a while.

Overall, there was a good mix of old and new tracks including the band’s latest single “Do Your Worst”, which has been working its way up the charts. The crowd went nuts on this one. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall Rival Sons getting a lot of national radio attention before this single. I feel like they were everyone’s best kept secret. With “Do Your Worst” doing so well at radio I could see Rival Sons getting really big very soon.

Since forming in Long Beach, CA in 2009, Rival Sons have released six albums and toured extensively. The band has a ton of dates trekking across the U.S., Canada, and Europe this summer in support of “Feral Roots.” If you’re up for a short road trip you can catch Rival Sons in Kansas City at the Voodoo Lounge on June 16. Voodoo Lounge is a killer spot. Combine that with the phenomenal stage presence of Rival Sons, and I highly recommend it!

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