After a fire forced Union Pool into a temporary state of closure (fingers-crossed for a speedy return), Country Westerns moved their Brooklyn show down a few blocks to neighborhood bar Harefield Road.
Country Westerns make barebones rock and roll with a punk swagger, a perfect bar band ready, willing, and able to blow the roof off with sheer force and maximum volume. On their self-titled record, the band ripped through surging rock that felt both grounded and also free wheeling, ready to run you off the road at any time with high-flying speeds and pure rushes of adrenaline. Playing through a bit of a cracked PA, the band's DIY hustle sounded extra full of life for the occasion, the growl of lead singer Joseph Plunket sounding more ragged than usual and their metallic twang ricocheting through the packed bar. High energy reigned supreme for the entirety of their set with drummer Brian Kotzur bashing away with controlled fury and steady rhythms. The band kept the banter to a minimum, thanking the crowd and bar for making the show happen with such short notice, but Plunket was sure to welcome and thank Matt Sweeney for joining the group for the final two numbers of the night. After playing in Chavez and on records from the likes of Johnny Cash to Zwan, the (Dixie) Chicks to Run the Jewels, seeing him absolutely shred on the guitar in such an intimate setting was truly mind-blowing and an incredibly unique moment. Country Westerns play lean, mean rock music that verges on the edges of post-punk and outlaw country, but with Sweeney joining them, they transcended their already great sound and took on something truly special. They're all thrills and no frills, playing to their crowd with attitude and appreciation. While they deserve to play bigger venues, seeing them rock out in the close proximity of friends in tiny, local bar feels like the place to really see them shine and they did everything in their power to make sure people walked out as blown away as possible. Bar bands can really be hit or miss, but on most nights, Country Westerns aren't just good, they're top-notch. Tonight, however, they might've been the best bar band in the world.