Long live rock, I need it every night

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ol' Dirty Bastards

One of my goals when I moved to Austin was to attend an Austin City Limits taping. I didn't care who was playing I just wanted to experience it once. I soon learned that everyone wants to attend these shows. Therefore, tickets hard to come by but last week I got my chance.

This wasn't my first time in the famous ACL studio. I was there a few weeks ago for a ACL Stage Left performance featuring Brazos. The main difference was the crowd size and the staging. If you've seen the show you know its trademark is the Austin skyline right behind the stage.

Once inside, I grabbed a beer, snagged a seat (standing is for suckers), and the Heartless Bastards took to the stage. The band is known for its bluesy version of garage rock but on its latest album, The Mountain, they changed things up a bit. Prior to recording, Erika Wennerstrom moved from Ohio to Austin and replaced the entire rhythm section. The result was less of that lo-fi sound that is synonymous with the Ohio music scene and more of what I'd call country-grunge. The music is still a little dirty but it has plenty of muscle to match Erica's soulful and distinctive vocals.

At first Erika seemed a little nervous but then I suspected she was a little tipsy. It could've been nerves but I'm betting otherwise. Not that it mattered. When she was singing and playing guitar she was spot on. You only noticed when she spoke with the crowd or had to restart a song - which she did more than a few times. That was the one thing that distinguished this from a regular concert. They knew they were on tape and everything would be edited later. If a song wasn't going right Erika would call it off and start over. This happened three times when Erika and Alex Maas, lead singer of The Black Angels, sang Johnny Cash's "If I Were A Carpenter" (they have a side project called Sweet Tea). It took a while but once they got through the first verse everything sounded great. The Man in Black would've been proud.

Erika, who bares a striking resemblance to former Saturday Night Live player Cheri Oteri, and the band gained confidence and momentum as the set progressed. The low point was the Cash cover restarts but things turned for the better when they played "Into The Open" off All This Time. With each song the rhythm section proved fierce but well honed. The group cranked out a rousing racket but also showed range with tunes featuring acoustic guitar, banjo, and violin.

This is the third time I've seen these Bastards in concert. The first time I only knew one or two songs. Sacklunch, probably their biggest fan in Rock Club, was a little disappointed in the show but I liked it enough to listen to more of their stuff. By the time I saw them again at last year at the Austin City Limits Festival I considered myself a legit fan. This performance did nothing to change that. In fact, quite the opposite.


sacklunch said...

Yeah, that 1st time we saw them was kind of a letdown, the ACL show was much better.

They are opening for Jenny Lewis in Asheville, NC (at a place called the Orange Peel) while we are down there this summer. I may try and go if the timing works out.

Potsy said...

Jenny Lewis and Heartless Bastards... that's a good line up. You should check that out mos def.

Jumbo Slice said...

Speaking of Jenny Lewis, a reader wrote in yesterday to suggest a post on the hottest ladies of indie rock. She would be in the running, no?

Potsy said...

Yeah. Definitely: http://www.dcrockclub.com/2006/10/extra-credit.html

Is that an actual photo of Erika Wennerstrom, or Cheri Oteri? I've always thought they looked alike too, but the photo posted looks more like a young-ish Reba McEntire.

Jumbo Slice said...

It's Oteri. Probably should have used a better photo. BTW, what ever happened to her? She left SNL and hasn't been heard from since.

Watson Twins are contenders for the Hottest List too.

Jimbromski said...

here's a better post idea, how about how every indie rock chick today looks pretty much identical to one another?

it's all a variation on the Feist quirky indie chick look. seriously, i bet I could find 10-15 pix from as many bands illustrating this fact.

Jumbo Slice said...

Erika Wennerstrom also resembles a younger Linda Cohn.

Potsy said...

unfortunate but true.

Jimbromski said...

remember that night we were talking and noted that the meanest thing one can say about a woman is that she "resembles Miles Davis"?

Jumbo Slice said...

I laughed so hard at the Miles Davies comment I had to shut my office door.

Unknown said...

jimbromski is right about them all looking the same. that said, of all the androids i am currently obsessed with this chick. well, not even. just that one picture. i like how her hair is covering one of her eyes, but i fear maybe it means she has a lazy eye? she's playing at iota thursday but i gotta go see taylor swift instead.

sacklunch said...

What's worse: lazy eye, glass eye, or the dreaded milky eye?

sacklunch said...

Re: Jumboslice

It's Miles DAVIS, not Miles DAVIES. Fucking jackass.

Jumbo Slice said...

re: sacklunch

This coming from the person who wrote:

"I ahve to agree with those sentiments."

Fucking jackass.

Seriously, can we just drop the whole grammar/spell check thing? It's really fucking lame. Maybe you could actually post to the site on a semi-regular basis instead?

sacklunch said...

I do it because I know it gets you all riled up. I love seeing Jumbo Slice get angry, it is such a rarity.

Okay, I'll stop. I promise. Jackass.

Jimbromski said...

milky eye is the worst, for sure

people w milky eyes remind me of Serpent and the Rainbow darkly packed voodoo masters

whereas lazy/glasseyed people just make me think of Thom Yorke, who is far less dangerous