After praying all night that my hearing would come back, I was happy to wake up in the morning and hear the birds chirp. This temporary deafness was the result of what I witnessed the night before: the sexiest, wildest and most powerful show I have seen in a long time. It’s safe to say that Thunderpussy and the boys of Black Pistol Fire definitely know how to take the stage. It was so intense that every time I stepped in a puddle of beer, I was afraid that I may have stepped in something else left by someone whose bladder couldn’t take the raw power of rock.
I could already feel the tension as I set foot inside Fairmount Theatre. The lights were dimmed, people kept to their cliques and dared not venture near the stage. I was outside when I heard the cry of a guitar and the building itself started to shake. Even the bouncer at the door seemed shocked. I quickly rushed inside, pushing past the crowd to stand right in front of the stage… and that’s when I saw the mighty Thunderpussy. An all-female band, sporting the best outfits I have ever seen, these cats played on that stage like they owned it. Fronted by the flexible Molly Sides, a singer who has it all; the voice, and the moves that come with it. At some point during guitarist Whitney Petty’s solo, Sides jumped from the stage. Actually, I recall seeing her glossy red boots a few inches from my face. But there she was, dancing and jumping around the audience while bassist Leah Julius and drummer Ruby Dunphy kept that sweet groove. The show wasn’t all theatrics and pretty faces though. These ladies can perform. Everywhere I looked on stage there was something going on. If the guitarist hadn’t already climbed on top of the bass drum while playing, then the singer was definitely doing a split right below the bassist while giving us a powerful howl. There was something very “80’s hair metal with a drop of Led Zeppelin” about the entire performance, which I think is what the audience wanted because they were dancing along.
The audience was left in silence again as the stage was set for the blues boys, Black Pistol Fire. You could already tell this one would be louder by the three amps lined up and ready to annihilate the audience with sonic power. It didn’t take long for Kevin McKeown to walk on stage, guitar in hand, followed by the dexterous Eric Owen. I say dexterous because the man not only played drums, he also had a Korg keyboard and a soundboard that made various sounds. It was impressive to say the least to see him keep the rhythm with one hand while playing some electronic low ends with his other hand, like on the song “Speak of the Devil.” Kevin McKeown has various styles and various guitars. On a song like “Hipster Shakes,” he’s picking and letting that fuzz ring loud, while on a song like “Run Rabbit Run,” he’s fingerpicking to an incredible rhythm set by the drummer. We were also treated to a short snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” during one of their own originals. This resonated especially well with the crowd, who seemed to have the old legends in their hearts.
I’m still unsure if Mckeown is usually like this or if it was breathing that familiar Canadian air, but he was wild. The stage at Fairmount Theatre is large enough to have at least three times the members of Black Pistol Fire, so understandably there was a lot of empty space. But boy, did Mckeown fill it. Even while singing, you could see his feet moving to the rhythm. And of course, to keep with the vibe set by ThunderPussy, he leapt from the stage, guitar in hand. He stood up on the bar and, never missing a note, took a shot. It was also nice to see the support from their one-man roadie as he made sure to keep the guitar cable high up in the air.
The show ended after an encore, in complete madness. The amps were turned to eleven and the drumming was relentless. What I loved about both these performances was that they seemed to take inspiration from the old school, be it Thunderpussy’s array of colorful costumes, or the old-school blues sound of Black Pistol Fire. But both had something fresh about them, something that screamed, “Rock isn’t dead.” And after seeing that show, I can assure you that rock is alive and well.
Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Eric Brisson Photography
*edited by Kate Erickson