Black Pistol Fire sell out intense Troubadour set

I first saw Black Pistol Fire at Shaky Knees 2015 in Atlanta. I knew nothing about them, but I was drawn to the stage immediately after hearing frontman Kevin McKeown’s wailing guitar from across the park. Their energy was infectious and their set was a high point of the weekend.

The Canadian rock duo doesn’t need a bass guitar. They don’t even need a rhythm guitar to bring the house down on the regular, as they did Saturday night at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

Kevin McKeown’s riff-driven guitar work pairs nicely with drummer Eric Owen’s smash work. They sound a bit like The White Stripes, but with a Texas twang that could partially be traced to their time spent in Austin. The two have been friends since kindergarten, which explains their immense on-stage chemistry.

Their sound evokes memories of rock and roll at its most stripped down beginnings — before you could lay down 10 tracks on top of each other. But that doesn’t stifle their creativity in the slightest — McKeown’s guitar solo work is incredibly impressive, and he bring an equal amount of charisma to the frontman role. Before the end of the night, he would visit the crowd on the floor and also play a solo on his back while surfing across the hands of the crowd.

Their 2017 record Deadbeat Graffiti was featured heavily, and a raucous rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” was another highlight. My favorite was one of the deep cuts from their new record, “Blue Dream”. There’s a certain Queens of the Stone Age quality to that one that really stood out to me.

The crowd was packed pretty tightly and there was serious head bobbing throughout the set. Faces were melted. They’re definitely a band that has to be seen live — although their studio stuff is great, it’s impossible for them to capture the intensity of the songs without seeing McKeown run around the stage like a mad man.

If it’s a lot of pressure to be a drummer in a two-man band, you’d never know it from Eric Owen’s demeanor. Owen was the backbone, his hair constantly covering his face as he made the Troubadour shake with his drum work.

It’s amazing to see what kind of sound can emanate from just two people on stage. Hopefully Black Pistol Fire gets a lot of calls to play the 2018 festival circuit.

Photos by Tim Aarons