Preview: Heartless Bastards Live @ The Crocodile
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
By Adam Lawrence
Erika Wennerstrom is a force of nature.
The longtime lead singer/songwriter of Heartless Bastards has endured a band lineup in constant flux, romantic entanglements within said band, and a general lack of what most people would call “success” in the music industry. But that’s changing, thanks to Wennerstrom’s determination and work ethic. Also, she has the voice of a goddamn hurricane.
Heartless Bastards began as a three-piece from Akron, OH. Their debut, 2005’s Stairs and Elevators, made a splash with a little help from fellow Akronites Black Keys, who helped get the band signed to Fat Possum records. After an appearance on an album tribute to Junior Kimbrough, Wennerstrom exposed the world to her voice, an awe-inspiring wail that threatens to blow through the back wall of every club she plays. It’s powerful yet melodic, like a jet taking off from an aircraft carrier – it soars immediately.
On their current album, Arrow, Wennerstrom shows us what it might be like if she fronted T. Rex (“Got to Have Rock n’ Roll), The Who (“Simple Feeling”), or Zeppelin (“Late in the Night”). But the core of all Heartless Bastards music is straightforward blues rock. Wennerstrom never steers her band too far away from the roots of the tree, and that could be a detriment in less-skilled hands. But Wennerstrom understands her voice is best served by the tradition forged by centuries of people done wrong
Frankly, Heartless Bastards have never received the recognition they deserve. Previous visits to Seattle have resulted in half-filled venues and general indifference. However, based on last year’s Bumbershoot appearance, maybe a decade on the road is changing things. A large enthusiastic crowd watched Wennerstrom and company shake the base of the Space Needle. On July 23, Heartless Bastards and Hurricane Erika will test the structural integrity of the Crocodile Café. Hope they have a storm shelter.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbk4L68Q8eI]