Just as there are truths about life, there are truths about live music. For example, if you put rip-roaring blues rockers in a venue, the crowds will flock, ready to get rowdy. Such was the case Monday night at Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom, where Black Pistol Fire and special guests Shooks brought the house down to kick off the week.
Austin-based Shooks greased the wheels, their gritty riffs and warped vocals creating an experimental sound that boomed throughout the room. Frontman Marlon Sexton was every bit the showman, thrashing around the stage and holding his guitar aloft as he and his four bandmates played through last year’s Pet EP and other singles from their catalog. In every sense, their frenetic energy hinted at what was to come.
Fellow Austinites Black Pistol Fire are a raucous duo in the same vein as their openers — precisely why the two artists have played together in the past before embarking on this tour. Between Kevin McKeown’s antics at the mic with his guitar and Eric Owens’ spirited drumming, they’re a sight to behold. The pair opened with new release “Bad Habit” and pulled together a setlist largely from Look Alive and sprinkled with covers, from Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” to The Strokes’ “New York City Cops,” joined by Shooks’ Sexton. (Meanwhile, the fans downed their drinks, danced with their partners, and took selfies with the stage.) Every song had a little more energy than the last, building up to a much-appreciated encore.
For the grand finale, McKeown parted the crowd and found two elevated surfaces: the bar at the back of the venue, where he climbed up top and chugged a Modelo, and the drum kit for the famous jump-kick-land. The kind of stunts that define a show.
Check out all the photos from the show!
Story and photos by Taylor Knauf