Backyard Tire Fire with Rev. Horton Heat and Nashville Pussy
Friday · Southgate House
A lot of bands get an Americana sticker slapped on their tour trunk because they throw a session bone to a pedal steel player, which gives them the illusion of plaintive rootsiness. Backyard Tire Fire is not of that ilk.
Frontman Ed Anderson cut his teeth on The Beatles and Harvest-era Neil Young and translates those seminal influences (and dozens of potent others) into a deeply rootsy groove that seamlessly incorporates Rock, Pop, Folk, AltCountry, soulful Southern Rock and points beyond. Steeped in the '70s Classic Rock tradition, Anderson filters those bedrock influences through his own unique Americana sensibilities, coming out the other end sounding like a cross between early, grounded Wilco (before Jeff Tweedy started conducting mad studio scientist experiments), early Neil Young, the forcefully gentle ministrations of Eef Barzelay and Clem Snide, the upper Midwest twang of The Jayhawks and the visceral grip of Drive-By Truckers and The Black Crowes.
On Backyard Tire Fire's third album, last year's powerful Vagabonds and Hooligans, Anderson and his bandmates (brother and bassist/vocalist Matt Anderson and drummer/vocalist Tim Kramp) mosey and motor through a dynamic set that references all of the above while never once sounding as though they're wearing their influences like a badge or claiming them as exclusive membership in some kind of musical country club. They clearly choose to deftly weave them into their own sonic tapestry.
Between their strong musical presence and Anderson's lyrical gifts, Backyard Tire Fire possesses the power and grace to stand shoulder to shoulder with their influences as deserved equals. Predictably, BTF tends to amp their way through the subtleties of their carefully crafted studio work when they take it to the stage, adding yet another powerfully stripped-back dimension to their already solid material. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)
Tuesday · The Gypsy Hut
Toss around the lockstep jitters of Gang of Four, the chest-beating Punk manifestos of The Clash, the angry young howl of early Elvis Costello, the dark Pop wave of The Smithereens and the visceral Rock reconstructionism of The Afghan Whigs, then stir liberally with plenty of Northwest attitude.
You've just called The Cops.
The Seattle band came together four years ago with the convergence of lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Jaworski, guitarist John Randolph, bassist Brian Wall and drummer David Weeks. In an eight-month span in 2005, The Cops released both their debut EP, Why Kids Go Wrong, and their first full-length bow, Get Good or Stay Bad, to ecstatic regional response. The following year saw Wall's departure; he was replaced by former Supersuckers/Hater bassist Drew Church just as the band was preparing to leave for an opening slot on the Cursive/Jeremy Enigk tour.
Since then, The Cops have picked up a number of high-profile opening gigs, including tours with The Hold Steady and The Constantines, among others, leaving other people's audiences in screaming, sweaty hysterics in their wake.
The band's latest album, 2007's Free Electricity — produced by Fastbacks guitarist/Seattle legend Kurt Bloch — is an amazingly concussive studio representation of the skittering air-raid guitar attack that typifies The Cops' live blitzkrieg, from the XTC-on-steroids shriek of "It's Epidemic" and the Pat DiNizio-channels-dissonant-Strummer swing of "Modern Black Flats" to the martial Gang of Whigs rhythms of "Them Cats" and breakneck intensity of "Terribly Empty Pockets."
The Cops are certainly here to serve — protection you'll have to find on your own. (Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)