This ‘Heartless Bastards’ article was written by Tim Thackray’, a GIGsoup contributor
As the final song of The Heartless Bastards’ show draws to an end amidst sustained bass, howling vocals and bristling guitar feedback, a quick scan of the room reveals a sea of stunned faces. Driven by lead singer Erika Wennerstrom’s incredible vocals, she cuts through the chaotic sonic background like a siren calling out to sea, channeling the legends of rock and roll past. As set closers go, they might have just risen the bar for the next band who play The Borderline.
Without a doubt it’s Erika’s vocal chords that sets the group apart from being just another brick in the alt-country wall to being a mesmerising and vital live band. Throughout the evening you’re continuously led down the rabbit hole by her stunning voice that propels the Austin-based band to new heights. With a captivating presence similar to Jefferson Airplane’s Signe Toly Anderson, you wonder if it’s only a matter of time before she’ll be singing to larger audiences.
The evening begins with smiles all round as the band beam on stage, evidently happy to be entertaining London on a rainy summer evening and proudly proclaiming that this is their first sold out show in the capital. Playing a set largely made up of songs from their breakthrough record Arrow and the latest release Restless Ones, their blend of laidback bar rock and their acoustic-country wonderland keeps the audience of all ages interested throughout.
The music at times might have ambitions larger than the sweaty walls of The Borderline, but the dingy and rugged venue works perfectly for a band who draw from the fountain of musical history while offering something special to set them apart from their modern-day peers. The live five-piece create a wholesome sound, founded in their musicianship, but also in the comfortable comradeship they exude from the stage. The result is a gig that leaves you high in spirits thanks to the unifying power of music.
A sweaty and small gig for a band with such a widespread sound, it makes you count your blessings for the UK’s collection of small and unique venues.