Heartless Bastards @ Echoplex

Heartless Bastards | Echoplex (Los Angeles, CA) | April 3, 2012 |Heartless Bastards

If there’s anything that you – the collective masses – can assume, if not outright lay Vegas odds on, it’s that 2012 will be the year of the Heartless Bastards. Yes, technically it’s the year of the Dragon, but lets add another wedge to the Chinese zodiac wheel just because we can.

Erika Wennerstrom (vox/guitar), Dave Colvin (drums), Jesse Ebaugh (bass), and Mark Nathan (guitar) aka Heartless Bastards made a fair impressive and mighty noise in Los Angeles at the Echoplex. Sold out show? Yep. Ardent fans ready to throw elbows if you had the nerve to attempt inching your way closer to the stage than they were? Yeah, not kidding. These things speak to the purity and power of this rock and roll thing that skirts and flirts with blues, country, soul, alt edges, weighty chords of guitar, and stormy rolls of beautiful chaos. And then there’s that voice.

Have you heard Wennerstrom when she opens her mouth? Hers is a voice, thick and beefy and made for torch songs, bruised lives, ferocious howls, and emotional storytelling belted out with a Midwestern sensibility. Throughout their set it was easy to get caught up in studying such minutia as how tightly her eyes would close the deeper she reached inside. Riding on the release of one hell of a fourth album, ArrowHeartless Bastards, Heartless Bastards waltzed onto the stage and launched into their full and fleshed out sound; if it felt something akin to an assault, then we were all at the same show because there’s a healthy weight and punch to Heartless Bastards songs that now benefits from the additional electric and amped presence of Nathan on guitar.

Yeah, that guy can rip quite nicely and when Wennerstrom’s vocals soared (which happened often), Nathan laid clean riffs underneath it all. With songs like “Got To Have Rock and Roll”, “Nothing Seems The Same”, “Simple Feeling”, “Low, Low, Low”, and of course “Parted Ways” on the menu and sounding wonderfully more raucous and alive than they do recorded (mind you, their recorded form is no joke), the wonder is how they keep the lid on just enough. Hell, the whole band is tight and sharp enough to where a very distinct and focused soundscape of guitar rock bleeds through and repeatedly erupts in their capable hands without making a mess.

Hell of a show. Hell of a band.