Aftermath: Heartless Bastards at Warehouse Live

Sometime Wednesday night, Aftermath tweeted into the ether that we were watching a "female-fronted southern fried T Rex" while semi-Austin transplants the Heartless Bastards cranked into "Early In The Morning" about halfway through their set opening up for the Houston-bashing Jenny Lewis (stay tuned) at Warehouse Live.

The term "Southern-fried" has always seemed rote and nearly meaningless, but nonetheless we still sometimes use it offhandedly. We remember having a discussion amongst other writers about what descriptive words we sometimes use to describe music, in particular things that sound like the Heartless Bastards. We outright admitted that we us that adjective in particular in a lazy way when we can't intimate what we are hearing any better.

Live, the Bastards are not as fiery as they can be on record. In light of what would end up happening during Lewis' set, maybe there something was brewing backstage or on the tour buses. Even when we saw the Bastards during on in-store out at SXSW this year, they had seemingly had enough energy to melt all the vinyl that was sitting inside Waterloo Records.

Still, bandleader Erika Wennerstrom has a quiver in her voice that falls somewhere in between Janis Joplin and PJ Harvey, and at some somber instances feels like Antony Hegarty's asexual arias. When her voice aches, and those sadly innate tones that only a woman like her can utter, all pretense drops to the ground and its pure emotional viscera laid bare.

By herself, she could have one hell of a solo acoustic tour. The rest of the band does a workmanlike job accomplishing the rest of the band's Bastards catalog, but in no way do they match up to Lady Wennerstrom.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty