Saturday, August 10, 2013

Heartless Bastards Live - August 4, 2013

Don't be misled by their name: this band has heart.  Erika Wennerstrom, the band's lead singer and songwriter, has a powerful and versatile rock and roll voice.  At the Greaves Concert Center within Northern Kentucky  University, coming off a performance at Lollapolozza in Chicago the night before, the bastards played two sets for a hometown crowd.  The majority of their songs came from their past two albums, The Mountain (2009) and Arrow (2012).

Each band member made a separate entrance: Dave Colvin gave a drum solo, then bass player Jesse Elbaugh added a bass riff, then some lead guitar from Mark Nathan, and finally Erika taking over on lead vocals as they played their hit single "Parted Ways."  Other excellent moments included a song about Dayton, "Skin and Bones," old school rock in "Got to Have Rock and Roll," and the bluesy rock of "Sway."

Heartless Bastard's sound often gets compared with the classic rock of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Faces, and Tom Petty.  Their music encompasses folk-rock, country, blues, and elements of punk. A no nonsense stage presence conveys one thing: they are all about the music.  On Arrow, there's a Western influence as well with songs evoking the West of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone, especially on "The Arrow that Killed the Beast." Their recent output has gone for a more epic sound evoking the grandeur of America.

These days, despite all the choices of music available, the power of rock continues to endure. Heartless Bastards would be at home in almost any era.  Their straight up rock and roll and unpretentious stage presence will win over any crowd.  Their best work is yet to come.