Never a stranger to the East Coast, the Sheepdogs have been making their way to Halifax since early 2007. But those were the days of barely-there crowds at Gus' Pub and other local dives, long before their rise to fame as Garnier Fructis-approved Rolling Stone cover stars. Bringing with them a sample of cuts off their Patrick Carney-produced self-titled fourth album, the Saskatchewan boogie rockers packed a sold-out crowd into Halifax's Olympic Community Hall.
Starting out the evening were BC rockers Yukon Blonde. Regular headliners in the city, the effects-pedal-heavy four-piece played a condensed 40-minute opening set that relied heavily on their recent Tiger Talk LP. Their relentless touring schedule has definitely paid off, with guitarist Brandon Scott's fancy fretwork sounding more muscular than ever.
Following a break between sets, the shaggy-haired roughriders in the Sheepdogs took to the stage to adoration from a predominantly mustachioed crowd as The Chronic: 2001's "Still D.R.E." rang in the background. Diving into hits from their moderate back catalogue, the country-fried rockers laid into renditions of "I Don't Know," "Who" and "The Way It Is." Finishing up with immediate classic "Southern Dreaming," the band returned for an encore with special guests Matt Mays and Yukon Blonde's Jeff Innes, who helped rip out a cover of the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
Leaving the stage to chants for one more song, it was clear the prairie boys have amassed a sizable fan base on the East Coast in their six years of touring, and the Sheepdogs know how to keep those fans happy.