There are some live rock shows that are such a lightning bolt to the chest – such an acute fusion of all the elements that make your pulse race – it’s truly impossible not to move. And as rare as they are nowadays, it would be a sin to fight the urge. A hard-dancing crowd witnessed one of these at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC last night, and it was fueled by Black Pistol Fire, supported by Blackfoot Gypsies, both of whom were in fine form and had no qualms about taking over the full stage. The sets that ensued were something special; enticing, gritty, and real, like a jagged gold nugget cut right from the rock.
If you didn’t know Blackfoot Gypsies hailed from Nashville, Tennessee, you could probably guess it from their deft musical ability and real-deal stage presence; the chops that come with building a rock-and-roll name in such a country-heavy scene. The receptive rocker-audience was visibly excited the four-piece kicked things off with “Everybody’s Watching,” a rollicking, stomp-inducing lick from Blackfoot Gypsies’ new album, To The Top. Enriched by the warm harmonica solos and bird-like whistling of Ollie Dogg, Blackfoot Gypsies seemed to pull us further and further from the city with each song. Keeping everything in sync with Zack Murphy’s solid drumming, Dylan Whitlow’s basswork was freakishly nimble, his fingers spanning the strings faster than if they’d been greased. Tying it all together was lead guitarist and frontman Matthew Paige, whose authentic vocals, ripping solos, and wild, mid-air splits made it a set to remember. Before they were through, he thrust two peace signs into the air and repeated as quickly as an auctioneer, “Spread that shit around! Spread that shit around! Lot of love out there. Spread that shit around!”
The crowd was clearly fired up from such a strong opening set, and the realization that Black Pistol Fire were soon to follow seemed to douse the flames with extra fuel. Fans pushed in close to witness every detail of their performance, from the second Eric Owen climbed onto the platform elevating his drum set, and the scream-filled moment Kevin McKeown walked up to meet his signature mic and select a Fender to shred on. “I’ll tell you…we’ve been itching for this one,” said McKeown of the NYC show, purring softly into the microphone. It was one of the longest sentences he’d say, and certainly the lowest volume we’d hear from his voice for the rest of the night. Every other emotion was conveyed through the explosive music; their muscles invested in every note, droplets of sweat illuminated like mist around their faces, McKeown’s rugged vocals seducing steady waves of squeals from all around the room.
Black Pistol Fire’s NYC show was packed with sizzling material from their new record, Deadbeat Graffiti, including “Lost Cause,” “Blue Dream” and the sickeningly-cool “Speak of the Devil,” whose dark blues riffs made it a big standout live. As a treat to the classic rock fans in the room, they even integrated some fun covers, like “Oh Well” by Fleetwood Mac and the first verse of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” And they destroyed all the songs that have already become classics for the duo, like “Suffocation Blues,” “Hipster Shakes” and the electrifying “Drop the Needle,” which seemed almost combustible in such close proximity to each other. No part of the Bowery was off-limits for McKeown as he tore into mind-blowing solos on his ever-swapping guitars – a fact he proved out as he scaled Owen’s set to stand tiptoe on the bass drum, rushed into the the rabid crowd, and occasionally, fell straight onto his back, too busy shredding to even think about catching himself. It was like the stage was lava, and he was constantly springing to cooler ground – but of course, this was no ordinary lava. Anytime he was at risk of veering off the stage, there were dozens of hands ready to cushion his fall. With true rock-and-roll this fleeting and pure, crowds don’t take any chances.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley