Concert Review: Shots Fired reunion show at Record Bar, Saturday, March 7

“I’m scared so shitless right now.” That’s how Shots Fired frontman Zachary Aaron greeted the audience at the Record Bar on Saturday night. He had a right to be nervous — it was the first time his band had played a show in more than two years. His later poll of the big but by no means capacity crowd revealed that someone had flown in from Utah for the occasion. The two new KC bands I’m currently most excited about — Pet Comfort and Audiovox — opened.

I’d never actually seen Shots Fired before — the band’s reign as one of KC’s most promising rock acts predated my time here. But I had a feeling the show was going to be good. That feeling was based on the fans I know and also on the band’s self-titled, self-released album, which came out in 2004 but still sounds fresh and mean.

Amid pulsing strobe lights, Shots Fired plowed straight through every song on that album, in order, on Saturday night. I was glad to have ear plugs. The music sounded bigger because the band is. Guitarist Cory White joined original members Aaron, bassist T.J. Matthews and drummer Billy Johnson on stage. Aaron was the only one who addressed the audience — and he did so after almost every song. He also took frequent swigs from a wine bottle he carried with him on stage. (When it was empty, it was replaced with a bottle of beer.)

Down on the floor, excitement emanated from fans and friends who sang along to every word, smiling and even headbanging. One fan and friend, the singer for the Dollhouse Rumor actually took over the mic at one point — he did a screaming part for Aaron. When Aaron sang, his voice pierced through the discordant guitars like he was telling someone off. As he waxed on about sewing someone’s eyes shut, his tone was angsty, but not enraged. He evoked the cynicism of a guy who’s partied enough to have seen it all.

The bounce, hook and even the violent imagery of songs like “Celebration” remind me a little bit of emo giant Taking Back Sunday. But while it might be fair to lump Shots Fired in with the emo rockers, that classification implies whiny sensitivity, a lack of balls. And Shots Fired has big balls — it shows in the no-frills approach to live performance. The music compelled Matthews to bend and weave around a lot, but that’s about as showy as things got. And that was fine. There was no encore, and the band made no promises about future shows. But Aaron and Johnson recently told me that they’re excited to write new material. So, with any luck, these hotshots will fire again.

In case you don’t have Shots Fired handy, here’s the setlist:

Categories: Music