Anyone entering Boston’s Brighton Music Hall last night felt the distinct pull of being dragged back a decade’s time. The early 2010s were a lucrative time in British rock, with the reign of bands like Arctic Monkeys and The 1975 crossing oceans and borders with their eargasmic pop hooks and indie rock sound. This is a sound that was perfected and time capsuled in teenage Tumblrs and mixtapes alike, containing a rawness and grit without the frivolous embellishments modern music often oversaturates us with. In the case of New York-based four piece, The Backfires, this sentiment is worn as the heart on their sleeves, dripping out of each guitar chord and hook with inspired conviction.
The transatlantic band, half hailing from London and the other from New York, have cleverly drawn from both sides of their origins to culminate a dynamic and charged indie rock blend of European accentuated hooks and American garage rock foundations. Opening up for British legends Courteeners on a string of east coast dates, Boston kicked off night one of their tour dates and their energy was palpable. Fresh off releasing their latest single, “Reflections On My TV” last Friday, the band rocked through an eight track set made up of early singles “Anything,” “Preoccupied,” “Blindsided,” and “Song 55”. As their third performance in Boston this year, the evolution of their live performance in a city that also has deep planted British-American roots, has impressively soared in only months time, allowing their fan base and confidence to grow.
Despite a broken bass string early on in the set, bassist Matt Walter prevailed and the band expertly carried on without disrupt. Tight in their musicianship, it seemed like nothing could penetrate their cool exterior; not the gaggle of screaming girls or the tight confinement of the stage. Frontman Alex Gomez is suave and unwavering in his vocals and stage presence, resembling a young Alex Turner in vocal range and poise. Sonically and aesthetically, the band play to both sides of the pond, offering something relatable, charming, and oh-so-catchy on each track. “Song 55” excels as a staple live track for the band, not to be confused with the likes of Blur. With the guts of Arctic Monkeys, and the energy of The Libertines, the track is highly reminiscent of a particular period in British indie rock that flourished and created a cultural shift. Gomez and guitarist Harry Ruprecht are a dynamic duo that play off of another with the ease of longtime partners, especially on this track and their closing track, “Joyride”. The band played three unreleased tracks, including their finale, teasing listeners with the promise of new music on the horizon.
An alt-rock song containing the nostalgic flair of the early 2000s, “Reflections On My TV” revels in its dramatic guitar work and moody quality. Drummer Max Wanduragala shines specifically on this track, holding down the beat and expertly allowing it to build in a slow burn that simmers in its chorus. Its slowed pace provides a moment to sit back and relish in its familiar yet comforting sound. The Backfires have perfectly captured the duality of their coasts and influences. Often evoking reminiscent sounds of decades gone, their music is still invigoratingly fresh and captivating to young and matured audiences alike. Lyrically, they resonate with the twenty-somethings in the crowd, yet sonically they were able to captivate everybody in the room with their highly appealing, straightforward guitar based rock that is universally consumable. While on American soil, they commanded a mostly British audience that turned out for hometown heroes Courteeners. The Backfires surely gained a plethora of new fans and left their mark on the raucous crowd.The Backfires Online: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Tiktok | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music