Concert review: Burrowss and the Ghost Wolves turn up at the Heavy Anchor, Friday, August 3
While both bands were left to the thankless task of playing to a thinly-packed crowd, the sheer noise of the night was enough to fill up the empty space of the room — amplifiers cranked to what I can only assume was 11 and a P.A. pushed to the point of crackling somehow only served to make the tunes that night feel more authentic and even electric, with ears ringing loud between songs and sets.
The Ghost Wolves, from Austin, Texas, took the stage first with their amps covered in fuzzy white fur and a real live ghost wolf named Winter hanging around outside the bar. The duo, comprised of Carley “Carazy” Wolf on guitar and Johnny “Hammer” Wolf on drums, plays with no set list and practically begs for White Stripes comparison. But to write them off so easily would be a disservice to the band’s sound — a joyous celebration of reckless rock starting somewhere down around the Mississippi blues and moving all throughout the ages — up to and including bands like the 5, 6, 7, 8s.
While not every note was perfectly in tune or in time, the Ghost Wolves are one of the few bands where the imperfections are truly part of their charm — the duo played to their own rhythm, feeding off of each other’s cues during long love songs with drawn out breaks before crashing back into tempo.
Carley Wolf, with a Betty Boop voice and an unexpectedly killer mastery of the slide guitar, danced around on stage with a giant smile, drawing most of the crowd’s attention, while Johnny Wolf appeared to be the stabilizing factor of the group, making most of the suggestions on what song to play next and taking lead vocals on one or two of the songs as well.
The Gwolves, as the band requested the crowd to call them at the end of the night, finished their set by teasing out a bit of crowd participation, getting the room to sing, “I gonna live, gonna live, gonna live and I’m not gonna die!” before letting Burrowss take the stage.
Burrowss, who has been playing in the St. Louis area for just under a year now, remains one of the city’s best secrets in regards to real rock ‘n’ roll. While a predilection for fuzzy-toned ’60s garage rock is evident throughout their set, it’s impossible to link Burrowss back to a single influence.
As soon as the crowd settled in to the heavy distortion and hard-hitting snare of set-opener “Cut Your Film,” the song was already sliding into the title track of their album, “Don’t Take It Slow,” which could be called a beachy ’60s throwback, provided Brian Wilson traded in his four-part harmonies for an angry-sounding synth.
“Lover” remained, as always, a standout moment in the set — a heartbreaking ballad about the dangers of drinking where vocalist Emily Keefauver’s voice shines out, recalling the mournful tones of Patsy Cline, with just a twinge of roughness behind it, as if Patti Smith had shaken Cline around a bit before performing.
The set marks Burrowss’ first time performing with their new drummer, Jesse Olive. Yet despite his newcomer status, Olive gave a near-perfect performance, lending a new energy to the band’s set. If the show at the Heavy Anchor is any indication of what St. Louisians can look forward to in the future, Burrowss might not be one of the city’s best-kept secrets for much longer.