Liverpool House/The Sheepdogs live at Théâtre Corona, reviewed

Is this where JTru brought Barack? A bemused maître d’ gathers his thoughts and shows me to my table. The décor is Sud-Ouest, but the ambiance is pleasant claustrophobia in lieu of repurposed factory chic.

An innocuous gin cocktail is followed by two entrées: sea urchin atop a sourdough waffle, dill forward, and a smoked sturgeon knish. The latter comforts and the former is tasty, but neither signals boldness.

Our affable waitress sells us on halibut for two. She and the price tag both imply a meal; but the poached filet, which has imbibed a lobster bisque at the expense of its own delicate flavor, takes all of ninety seconds to inhale. (I estimate the cost of this main at about $0.20 per calorie.) A bizarre romaine, caper berry, and parsley side salad does not a serving of vegetables make – so we order bread to sop up the bisque, and lobster spaghetti as an unplanned third course.

Why leave the lobster in its shell? The answer might be a fondness for whimsy, but I suspect the overcooked claw, knuckle, and pair of miniature tail clippings are intended as a humblebrag instead. The meat is an afterthought, anyway; the pasta is texturally perfect, the cream sauce redolent of butter, the whorls spun on my fork an homage to simplicity.

So many French words. A mille-feuille with mascarpone and pistachios undergirded by a chocolate sauce is the second best thing we taste. But our expensive excursion on Cocaine Avenue, as my work colleague has christened this yuppie-frequented stretch of Notre-Dame, leaves us wanting.

Ratings are absurd in a city with so many restaurants per capita. What matters is whether one would return. I might for the lobster spaghetti, and I did enjoy the service. But on balance, I think it very unlikely.


I hadn’t heard of The Sheepdogs before I was invited to see them on a spare ticket. Spotifying their latest album did not bode well. Pressed by my girlfriend to describe what I would have to listen to for ninety minutes, my first words were: “the whitest music I’ve heard in a long time.”

A portent. I counted exactly one black person in the mezzanine. An aesthetic conjecture: bad music is aural ideology; it accretes either an ethnic or an intellectual homogeneity (see, e.g.: heavy metal or classical music).

How white? This Saskatchewanese (be honest: you prefer this demonym) quintet flatulates soporific 70s simulacra, replete with long hair and floral pattern bellbottoms for visual flourish. They rock precisely hard enough to attract an audience fully one-and-a-half times their own median age (my loose estimate), and there are air guitars. Frequent masturbatory guitar solos are interspersed with pointless trombone blowing and some genuinely compelling fiddle. Whatever blues they put on, they owe to The Black Keys, whose sheen was lost to me after The Arctic Monkeys assimilated their sound.

“It must be Saturday night / and the feeling is right / S-S-S-Saturday night.” The lyrics are a punchline heightened by the profusion of rapt memberberries in attendance. Witnessing this spectacle crystallizes the difference between nostalgic music and nostalgia.

Full House, The X-Files, countless other reboots and re-launches – this is the era of non-appropriative recollection. We aren’t making new out of old, because we’re too busy remembering.

—Phil Lagogiannis