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STRIPPED TO THE ROOTS

The Sheldon gets a rare dose of rock & roll

Rock bands don't play the Sheldon. Likely that has something to do with the hall's impeccable acoustics, which function a bit like an X-ray on songs and musicianship. You hear everything. Given the way a lot of bands in St. Louis (or elsewhere) approach their music — play louder and nastier than the next guy and you might get noticed — that's not always a good thing.

At least two St. Louis rock bands have taken advantage of the Sheldon's Notes from Home series: Nadine and Waterloo. For Nadine, playing in that lush clarion space directly influenced some of the more memorable moments on their new CD, Downtown, Saturday. And their February 1997 Sheldon performance is perhaps the most revelatory show I've ever witnessed by a local band. Playing as a trio and emphasizing the call-and-response of grand piano and Hammond organ, Nadine seemed to discover something about their songs and about themselves. And that was exciting to see and hear.

Judging from their forthcoming debut, Going to the Sun (release scheduled for the end of September), Waterloo may have found something in their intimate Sheldon experiences as well. The band still has an assertive, pure rock & roll rhythm section, only now they're discovering how to fuse melodic and lyrical detail with all kinds of Murmur-esque tones, textures and pleasing noises, subtleties that invite close, reflective listening. It's probably been a year since Waterloo last played out; their Sheldon co-bill with Nadine (7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24) should not be missed.

 
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