Tag Archives: Heartless Bastards

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No Gimmicks, Just Rock and Roll

July 11th, 2013

Grain Audio Presents Heartless Bastards – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 10, 2013


The show began with Dave Colvin pounding the drums. Then bassist Jesse Ebaugh joined in, followed by Mark Nathan on guitar, before singer-guitarist Erika Wennerstrom finally joined the jam, rounding out Heartless Bastards as they launched into a blistering, evil Beatles-esque “Simple Feeling” to open their sold-out show last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. As far as gimmicks go, that was about all you were getting from the Bastards last night. No ginned-up lights or projections, no delay loops or laptops, just rock and roll, delivered raw and ready, played just about perfectly.

Every great rock band needs a frontman’s (or –woman’s) presence, and Wennerstrom, with a snakeskin guitar strap that screamed badass! has got enough of that it inside her that you wonder if she sets off alarms going through airport security. As the quartet blazed through a set drawn mostly from last year’s Arrow, she was a powerful presence. But Heartless Bastards spread the love throughout the band, and each song was a highlight reel of four musicians clicking like a precision machine. The storytelling arc of each song’s energy provided the tune-to-tune variety. Slow songs smoldered along to a stunning rock-out climax, while some simmered along ecstatically minutes at a time, and others started hot and grew hotter and even hotter.

Pretty much every piece was notable in some way: “The Arrow Killed the Beast” found the band drenched in red, yellow and orange light, slow-burning wicked and powerful like a soundtrack to a Cormac McCarthy novel; the Junior Kimbrough cover “Done Got Old” felt like a blues reinvention the Who might’ve pulled off in their prime; “Only for You” was a love song so good, you wished it were you Wennerstrom was howling for atop that groovy riff; and “Down in the Canyon” rocked into that can’t-believe-they-keep-topping-themselves overdrive. And as good as Heartless Bastards are, that’s probably the best thing about them—that they do keep topping themselves. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Heartless Bastards – Webster Hall – February 24, 2012

February 27th, 2012


Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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The Acoustic Elegance of Heartless Bastards

July 25th, 2011

Heartless Bastards – Mercury Lounge – July 23, 2011


“A bird shit on my head when I parked coming here. I hope that means it’ll be a really great show,” the brilliant Erika Wennerstrom shared with the crowd. Perhaps if birds shit on bands more often those bands would sound as good as Heartless Bastards did at Mercury Lounge on Saturday night. Known for playing much larger venues, the group, comprised of Wennerstrom (vocals-guitar), David Colvin (drums), Jesse Baugh (bass) and Mark Nathan (guitar), took the intimacy to a whole new level, performing an all-acoustic set. There is something really special about a show like this. Sure, electric rocks, but the simple elegance of acoustic brings music back to the basics. There are no gimmicks or glitz, just real, honest tunes.

Wennerstrom’s soulful voice is unlike any others. Hers is velvety and rich and the words she sings are beautiful, sad, vulnerable and empowering. It’s like she feels out each note as if discovering it for the first time. The quartet’s musicality was remarkable. Guitars twanged and the upright bass added a timeless allure. Talented singer Heidi Johnson, harmonizing sweetly with Wennerstrom, joined in on some of the group’s newer songs.

From “Could Be So Happy,” off the 2009 album The Mountain, to “Runnin,” from 2006’s All This Time, each melody was heartbreaking but also filled with hope. After many cries for “more Bastards!” the band returned to the stage and finished with the powerful ballad “The Mountain.” Heartless Bastards create the type of music that makes you thankful to be alive and to be able to feel love, loss and life. Those in the audience appeared grateful as they swayed and held onto one another. More than once, however, someone shouted, “I love you, little bastards,” reminding us all to lighten up and have fun. —Kristen Ferreira

Contest

Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Heartless Bastards on 7/23-24

July 19th, 2011

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Heartless Bastards are coming to town to play two sold-out shows at Mercury Lounge on 7/23 and 7/24. And since it’s so hot and humid, The House List wants to give you some cool music, which means we’re giving away two tickets to each show. Want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, including your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Heartless Bastards, 7/23 or 7/24) and a brief message explaining what you like about acoustic music. Eddie Bruiser, a surefire acoustic fan, will notify the winners by Friday. Good luck.

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These Bastards Are All Heart

July 15th, 2010

Heartless Bastards – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 14, 2010

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If you were looking for in-your-face, fist-pumping rock and roll last night, you could’ve done far worse than Heartless Bastards at Music Hall of Williamsburg. In the wild jangle of electric guitars, wrecking-ball bass playing and heavy horsepower drumming, the true secret weapon was Erika Wennerstrom’s vocals, which seemed to be transported from beyond the grave—her compact frame channeling some long-passed, soulful blues legend. While other bands might build to a climax of dueling guitars at maximum decibels, the Bastards’ tension release came from Wennerstrom’s voice filling all of Music Hall like air in a balloon. Her “ooohs” during “Witchy Poo” had more energy and urgency than most frontmen could possibly consider.

Midset, Heartless Bastards were joined by a violin player who at first brought the volume to I-may-need-earplugs levels before making way for some acoustic numbers. The drummer left the stage, transforming the band into a living-room outfit. Bass player Jesse Ebaugh switched to banjo for an excellent version of “Had to Go.” Once the group returned to full strength, the home stretch of the show was an exercise in endurance rock and roll, with each song outdoing the previous in energy, length and volatile interplay. Ebaugh’s pedal steel work on “The Mountain” was a revelation. It was the highlight of the night, and you had to wonder why he only played the steel for one song. The encore featured Peter Pisano (of opener Peter Wolf Crier) singing in trio format with Wennerstrom and Ebaugh on a lovely “Be So Happy,” rounding out a 90-minute set that made the still-wanting-more crowd so happy indeed. —A. Stein