Black Pistol Fire turns the Sinclair into a sweaty blues mecca
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
The effect Black Pistol Fire has on a crowd is immediate. Eric Owen sits down at his drumkit in nothing but shorts, batting gloves and a ridiculous amount of hair on his face. Kevin McKeown straps on a turquoise Gibson, steps on the right pedals and thus marks the last restrained moment of the night.
And it’s out. The bulldozer sound that these two pump out, equal parts Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Stooges and Black Flag, is absolutely unrelenting blues swirled around rhyming rapid-fire rock and roll couplets. It’s mesmerizing and overwhelming.
“Come on! All you folks in the back and up top, get down here!” McKeown told the Cambridge crowd. “It’s loud and sweaty, that’s where it’s at. Come on!”
This crowd turned from enthusiastic to delightfully unruly quickly. While the band certainly put a charge into a Boston audience a few months ago at the much-smaller Great Scott, here, crowd surfers on the floor of the Sinclair were immediately present and they became a friendly mosh pit by the time they got to “Copperhead Kiss.” Friendly, in that they were more than willing to quickly pick up anyone who hit the ground, but otherwise wound up to unrestrained levels. McKeown himself dove back-first into the arms of the audience without missing a note of the guitar solo he was tearing through.
It wasn’t limited to solos, though. He grabs the microphone on the more impassioned phrases and strains his vocal chords howling out the lyrics, squeezing the neck of the guitar to let out another squeal of feedback with the other hand. Meanwhile, Owen is locked in, watching and ready to turn on a dime and start destroying the cymbals when needed.
The comic relief for the night came anytime McKeown lept up and off of Owen’s bass drum — out came a scrambling drum tech to frantically put the drums and affiliated mics back in place while Owen kept pounding away. He wasn’t oblivious — he one-armed a few mic stands into place himself while playing — he just refused to do anything to take away from the beat.
That’s what makes this band so magnificent live. McKeown is doing the work of at least three people in rallying the crowd and playing his Gibson so menacingly that he sounds like a small army on his own. He slides around on his boots as if he were on a moving walkway, springs up onto Owen’s drums again and back to the mic to suddenly divert away to a Led Zeppelin cover, all in an effort to get the crowd as riled up as possible while making such an unholy and beautiful noise.
It’s destruction and chaos corralled into a rock and roll set. It’s rowdy and raucous and mean. Like they said, it’s loud and dirty. It doesn’t take long for anyone listening to decide it’s exactly where they want to be.
Email Nick Tavares at firstname.lastname@example.org