Heartless Bastards meet some heartless fans

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 161 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — The Austin-based rock band Heartless Bastards is one of those indisputably cool, unquestionably talented bands that, for whatever reason, only a handful of people have even heard of.

Despite the band’s recent success with its February album release, Arrow, a repeat appearance at the upcoming SXSW Music Festival and a recent gig on The David Letterman Show, the crowd was thin for a March 8 show by the band at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville.

The Heartless Bastards put on a rock show with plenty of ups and downs. Sometimes mellow and at other times chaotic, the show seemed uneven, failing to ever completely bridge the gap between the two extremes. Despite the unevenness, the band is really good at what they do, wailing on guitars with a no-frills approach to garage rock, chock full of emotion. The most powerful gun in their arsenal is lead singer Erika Wennerstrom’s killer voice. A rich and substantial alto/baritone, her powerhouse voice is haunting and brash, filled with equal parts angst and fury.
Whether it was the choppy set list or the sparse attendance, the band played a solid show to a less than enthusiastic/respectful audience. It seemed as though the true music lovers and those there to see the show quickly occupied the upper deck at George’s, leaving the drunks to dominate the majority of the front rows on the floor. Whooping and hollering for the band aside, there was a lot of unnecessary talking, and Wennerstrom couldn’t help but notice. With an acoustic guitar in her hands, she prefaced a song by asking if the audience was ready for a sweet, slow song. Not far into the tune, the unruly crowd got the best of her, prompting her to abruptly stop the music and shout, “I don’t even know why you’re here!"

In shock, the room shared a collectively awkward moment as she replaced her acoustic guitar in favor of her gold Les Paul electric. Although curt, her assessment of the situation was accurate, and to her credit, she went almost immediately into damage control saying, “I don’t mean that to all of you.” After the outburst, the band really seemed to reach their stride, putting more of an actual rock effort in the remaining songs, leading into a two-song encore that was the highlight of the night.

The California-based opening act, The Fling, performed a notably impressive set. The Heartless Bastards are a talented band that puts on a solid show. This was not this reviewers first time to see them, nor will it be the last.