The fact that Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown is playing unplugged tonight should be just as sonically surprising as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons playing Latin style.
Quiet just isn’t this band's thing — and in fact among the only times you’ll hear these Nashville-based, Texas-bred blues-rockers without amps is when they’re opening for some of rock’s most legendary acts. Yeah, they’ve done this before. A lot. B.B. King, Aerosmith, a whole tour with Jeff Beck and ZZ Top — one in which Bryant took the stage solo acoustic to warm up the crowd. He told a reporter in St. Louis that he wouldn’t normally do that, but “when Jeff Beck and ZZ Top ask you to do something, you do it.”
We aren’t sure if that’s what happened here — but we won’t rule out the possibility that Gibbons had a nightmare that Tyler Bryant and Co. played louder than him and stole the show.
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They just released an EP, The Wayside, two weeks ago — their first release since their first full-length, Wild Child, in 2013. While still Southern blues through and through, here they’ve ditched the loose, rootsy plucking so prevalent on Wild Child for enough fuzz and heavy bass lines to — at least at some points — almost pass as metal. At other points on Wayside, the band breaks into vocal harmonies and slow guitar lullabies, as in the ballad “Devil’s Keep” and the outro titular track, both suitable for tonight’s low-key slot.
Less suitable, though, is “Mojo Workin,” a fierce, swamp-stomping tribute to Muddy Waters complete with a cut-to-half solo in the middle of the song, fast enough to make Waters proud. Should they share it with the crowd at Cullen Performance Hall — amps or not — then the crowd should be loose enough to salsa by the time Gibbons takes the stage to perform Perfectamundo, which was partially recorded here in Houston.
Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown open for Billy Gibbons & the BFGs tonight at UH's Cullen Performance Hall, 4800 Calhoun. Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets range from $25 to $65.