Before he began souping up blues traditions, cultivating his facial hair and achieving platinum status as kingpin of arena-boogie icons ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons was big on the teen scene in his hometown of Houston. As singer and guitarist of garage-psychedelic foursome the Moving Sidewalks, Gibbons achieved regional stardom with such earthy protopunk rave-ups as “99th Floor,” which topped the local charts for six weeks in 1967.
The Moving Sidewalks never got much of a chance to expand upon their regional success. Shortly after making the group’s lone album, 1969’s Flash, bassist Don Summers and keyboardist Tom Moore were drafted into the Army. Gibbons and drummer Dan Mitchell moved toward the blues, launching the initial incarnation of ZZ Top. While Gibbons hit the big time and his former bandmates kept their chops up in various local combos, the Moving Sidewalks assumed mythic status among psychedelic enthusiasts and garage-rock aficionados. That mystique is supported by the quartet’s fierce, inventive recorded output, the entirety of which was gathered on last year’s consistently compelling two-CD Moving Sidewalks: The Complete Collection (Rock Beat).
As impressive as their recordings are, much of the Moving Sidewalks’ legend is based in the band’s vintage reputation as an incendiary live unit. So their first live performance in 44 years—and their first ever in New York—seems likely to make some history.—Scott Schinder
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