David Hole (left), Brandon Kirkley (middle) and Chris Hensley (right) of BKTF at Amos’. Photo courtesy of Brandi Kirkley.


Wild, addictive, upbeat and charming: just some of the many words that come to mind when thinking of  Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers (BKTF).

The local rock band took to the stage at Amos Southend last Friday night to celebrate the release of their new album, “Years.”

Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers is lead by Kirkley, with Chris Hensley on bass and backup vocals and David Hole on guitar and backup vocals. Kirkley is a graduate and current employee of UNC Charlotte who has definitely proven himself over and over again to be the definition of a successful and devoted 49er.

The new seven-song album is straight up addictive, all-American rock from start to finish.

“I really love all the songs we chose for the album – they’ve all got a special place with me,” Kirkley says.

BKTF soon translated the feeling of these rock and roll tunes to Amos’ stage wonderfully at the release show. Earlier in the week, local rock radio station 106.5 The End even invited the band over to promote “Years” and played more than a few songs off the album.

“It’s always an awesome experience to hear yourself singing on the radio – and our fans get pumped about it as well,” Kirkley said.

“Being asked to come in the studio for an interview and acoustic performance was surreal. We’d done it once before, but being asked to come back to promote our new CD was very special, and we’re extremely thankful for the opportunity.”

On Friday night, Kirkley made sure that he went around and talked to everyone in the audience as they arrived to Amos. It really set up the whole event in way that felt very personal and connected. On stage, the night started off with supporting music sets from Georgia artist Dan Forsberg and local rock band VESS. Forsberg was very reminiscent of a Mumford and Sons/Augustana mix.

VESS, who seemed to have band members really different from one another, came together very well for some enchanting songs with a great onstage presence. Both acts definitely helped build up the excitement and rock and roll state of mind before BKTF finally the stage. When Kirkley arrived upon the stage, he was dressed with the attire so recognizable from the front cover of the album.

The man in trademark long necklaces, a jean jacket and skinny jeans made everyone get up on their feet and come towards the front of the stage. His outgoing personality from the very beginning gave everyone a good glimpse of how eccentric Kirkley was to be throughout the night. The band decided to start off the show with “Years”, the title track off the new album. With its undeniable catchy vocal anthem, the addictive song was a great way to get everyone ready for what was to come.

Obvious excitement was glowing from Kirkley and the band. Throughout his first few performances of “Madison,” “Stay” and “Not Even Here,” he kick-started the concert with ridiculous momentum to be a crazy good fist-pumping, sing-along good time. This enthusiasm became greatly apparent during the performance of  “Love, American Style.” This upbeat anthem, about someone continuously straddling the line between love and lust, has the high energy vocals and power punching guitar rhythms to sing and dance to.

Kirkley began to bounce around the stage in a crazy, frantic and awesome manner with a smile on his face the entire time performing this song.  And all the while, the American flag was right there in the background. Soon enough, Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers were radiating their obvious ability to put on a pretty awesome all-American rock show.

BKTF transitioned from this heavy American rock anthem to some slower, vintage love songs from their first album, “What We Thought We Knew”.  The performance of the songs “Sunset City” and “You Don’t Know” were definitely much more subtle, with just Kirkley and Hensley on stage with a guitar and a harmonica. Afterwards, Kirkley and the entire band reunited for a high energy, rock and roll run, ending the night playing new songs “Come On” and “Settle It Down.”

The entire release party was a major success. It seemed as if everyone in the crowd was wearing Brandon Kirkley and the Firecracker t-shirts or at least holding the new album in hand by the end of the night. “[The CD release party] was simply amazing and went by in a flash,” Kirkley mentions.

“We were astonished at the support from all of our friends, family and fans at Amos’. If we put on half of the show everyone raved that we did afterward, then we’re all very proud Firecrackers. Seeing so many people singing along, dancing and cheering for our music is the best feeling in the world.” It was without a doubt a memorable night, and Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers have the stage presence, the addictive rock tunes and the overall appeal to have an insanely successful career in the rock ‘n’ roll industry.

The new CD will be at all online retailers (iTunes, etc.) in the next few weeks, but anyone can buy the album sooner from www.bktf.net, along with other merchandise as well. Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers will be playing acoustically in Norm’s this Friday for the final Union Take Over.

Patrick is a former Community Editor and A&E editor for the Niner Times. He is pursuing a Communications major with minors in Film Studies and Journalism at UNC Charlotte. Contact him at pbogans@uncc.edu.