Black Pistol Fire

Black Pistol Fire

Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen are two guys who manage to produce a lot of noise. It’s an astounding feat that their wall-to-wall sound comes from just the two, and that sorcery is what inspired the duo to make music the way they do. 

The Austin-based, Toronto-raised two-piece group has found inspiration from all types of blues and rock, but they were ultimately most impressed with the two-piece dynamic. Their propensity to hold a crowd’s attention is near the level of mammoth classics before them due to their fast and hard rock ’n’ roll style. Despite being compared to multi-member groups such as Led Zeppelin, Black Pistol Fire prefers the two-man-band route.

When guitarist and vocalist McKeown was asked about the band’s influences, he said, “I feel like if the White Stripes didn’t exist, I don’t even know if we would be a two-piece. The White Stripes almost seemed like they were from a different planet, it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing. I don’t know how this works, but it works.’ The sound is great.”

McKeown also revered the Black Keys when it came to opening up the doors for young bands determining their style. “I think both bands were very inspiring for a lot of people to say, ‘All we need is guitar, drums and bash away, and we can make some cool sounds.’”

Black Pistol Fire’s thrash blues sound will undoubtedly shake the Belly Up when they play there this Saturday night, Jan. 12. The Canadians are known to play raucous covers that span the rock world. You can expect anything from Nirvana to Neil Young, with a hard-hitting twist and a high potential for stage dives and topless hairy men. 

The group’s high-energy shows are derived from their choice of genre-spanning rock that can land anywhere from garage punk to southern rock. Despite all trends moving toward electronic, McKeown and Owen haven’t taken the bait. They play classic, bluesy rock and even left their home country because there wasn’t enough of it. It seems that Aspen has an appetite for that rock, as tickets have been sold out for days. 

Saturday’s show is not the first time Black Pistol Fire has played the Belly Up, and it likely won’t be their last. When asked about their favorite venues to play, Owen said either the Webster Hall in New York City or Belly Up Aspen. The duo’s first show in Aspen was a free concert at the venue in 2013, and after a sold-out show in 2014, Belly Up’s David and Danny Goldberg decided to manage the band. Since then, the Belly Up has been somewhat of a second home for the band. 

Black Pistol Fire has come a long way since playing free performances in small-town venues. More recently they have been major hits at top festivals such as Lollapalooza and South by Southwest. Other than gathering major crowds of their own, McKeown and Owen have opened for Gary Clark Jr., Weezer, Wolfmother, The Struts and plenty of other rock legends. 

Although their live shows are what have truly brought Black Pistol Fire their fame, more people have heard the music through screens than anywhere else. From video games to cable television commercials, their music has been used by advertisers and entertainment providers across the gamut. Millions heard their tune “Hard Luck” in a Super Bowl ad, while countless others did in TV shows and video games.

Of course, the only true way to experience Pistol Black Fire is with a live performance. If you're lucky enough to have a ticket for the sold-out show on Saturday, be sure to catch frontman McKeown when he goes crowd surfing.