Box Cutting at the Top Hat

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By RYAN LANDOLFI

Photos by PATRICK RECORD

On Thursday night, Missoula’s blues-rock two-piece, The Boxcutters, played the Top Hat to a loyal local crowd.

Though the dance floor started empty, by the end of the show many of the bar’s patrons had jammed their way to center stage. The band’s sound, powered by Bill Birkenbuel’s throaty, yelled vocals and lead guitar along with Abe Jindrich’s driving drums, ranges from blues rock to garage rock.

Comparisons to the Black Keys are inevitable due to the band’s structure and sound, though The BoxCutters venture into raw, thrashing waters the Keys leave un-swum. After six years of playing together, the band understands that its strength lies in fast solos interspersed between pounding rhythms.

Placing third in a field of fifty bands at Sean Kelly’s Top of the Mic contest, The BoxCutters have proven their fortitude despite the band’s minimalist structure.

On Thursday the first half of the band’s song list sounded heavily influenced by the Black Keys, while the latter half of the show crept into garage rock raging and a few Sublime-esque lilting jams that got the fans dancing.

By the finale, Jindrich had shed his shirt, and Birkenbuel sang shoeless, though I’m pretty sure he performed barefooted through the entire set. (Remember, we are talking about two Missoula-bred musicians.)

As the music website reverbnation.com accurately puts it, “The BoxCutters’ aim is to rock you, and their aim is true. Simply put, The BoxCutters put the balls back in the rock scene.”

If sore neck muscles are any indication of success, The BoxCutters have head-banged their way into a Missoula music scene that welcomes locally grown music that really rocks.