The Pistolwhips O'Hanlon's, Regina SK, February 12

The Pistolwhips O'Hanlon's, Regina SK, February 12
Photo: Peter Scoular
The Pistolwhips put on a show for the Thursday night (February 12) crowd at one of the Queen City's downtown pubs, a room first filled with the seated and eventually filled out by a small crowd standing up front, enjoying the rock and maybe amped for the DJ dance party that was to follow.
The four guys in the Saskatoon band seemed to aim to lock down all the rock essentials for such a crowd. They've got the kind of several-generations-removed light bluesy-ness that's unsurprising from the city that birthed Jordan Cook and Reignwolf, and it accommodates their hard-hitting drummer and able guitar lines nicely. Some of the songs, which started out relatively mellow and built to a peak, seemed to be all about getting to that rocking out point where a crowd can lose themselves in a solo, though it was a relatively quiet song, "Eve," that proved to be a highlight of the set.
Singer and guitarist Ryan Schultz's voice has its own character, showing some of the gruffness of Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon tempered by a high nasal twang. Playing a set including songs from their debut full-length, 2014's On Your Side, he was as emotive as necessary, even selling lines that have been overused by now; the first song in the set featured "see the stars, they're burning bright" with a "cold as ice" thrown in for good measure.

But the band didn't have use for subtlety, at least in the live setting. Their cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" is a good case study. They had fun with it, and there was obvious excitement in the air as they took what was originally an acoustic classic for the Boss and turned it into a blasted-out rock song. They may have gone too big in a way that didn't necessarily suit the track, but it's hard to go terribly wrong with some bombast in the live setting.