Black Pistol Fire’s Kevin McKeown at ACL Fest 2019 (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
Black Pistol Fire
Emo’s, Friday 23
Locals Emily Wolfe and Shooks open
There’s a peak moment of rowdiness in almost every Black Pistol Fire show when singer Kevin McKeown catapults his wiry body backward off the stage, into the outstretched arms of the audience – then shreds guitar while being passed around like a beach ball!
On July 9 in Telluride, with the Austin duo making its first live appearance in 17 months to a hungry audience, McKeown inevitably hit liftoff, launching into the throng as Eric Owen laid in a hefty backbeat from the drum riser.
“I had kind of wondered if he was going to jump in … and he did,” confirms the drummer. “A lot of times I don’t even see it because I’m playing drums and a synth. I just hear the crowd go, ‘Ohhhhh!’ and I know what’s happened.”
Owen and I have just finished going head-to-head in an axe-throwing contest at an East Austin facility. He beat me handily in back-to-back games – him tossing easy bull’s-eyes and me desperately heaving hatchets to make up huge point deficits. Later, he reveals I never had a chance:
“Being Canadian makes me better [at axe-throwing] than you.”
The swaggering Southern garage blues unit, composed of two Ontarians who moved to Austin in 2009, released the unprecedentedly dynamic Look Alive in January. Recent single “Hope in Hell” now stands as the group’s highest charting track, hitting the top spot on Canada’s “Alternative Specialty” chart in March.
“We’re one of those bands you get annoyed with because they’re playing us so much,” jokes Owen of alternative radio in his native country and its affinity toward Black Pistol Fire.
On tour in the Great White North last March, they retreated home when the pandemic tripped the emergency cutoff switch on the global concert industry. Owen remembers the Denver airport looking like a disaster movie, with passengers frantically running around the terminals. In the ensuing year and a half, the collaborators since high school experienced unfamiliar isolation from one another.
Now back in business, munitions of pent-up energy prime BPF to blow the roofs off American venues. This month’s tour, anchored by an appearance at Lollapalooza in Chicago next week, crescendos locally on Friday at Emo’s, with Emily Wolfe and Shooks providing support. Mark it as their first Austin engagement since ACL Fest 2019.
“I was nervous, but it felt amazing,” admits Owen about returning to the sweaty communion of the concert experience. “The crowds have been fuckin’ insane, so that helps.” – Kevin Curtin
A Night of Jazz Together
Parker Jazz Club, Friday 23
Physicians for Musicians Together Again
Long Center, Saturday 24