On Wednesday night, I kicked off my Thanksgiving break with a trip to The Dame in Lexington to see the Heartless Bastards. I've been listening to this Cincinnati-based trio for about six months now (here's what I had to say in September), and my appreciation for them continues to grow. It's terrific blues-based rock fueled by the gutsy vocals of Erika Wennerstrom. I was positively giddy when I heard they were coming to Lexington, and the show did not disappoint. It's impossible to write about the Heartless Bastards without mentioning The Voice (i.e., Wennerstrom's). Its presence dominates the music, and in the live setting, it basically becomes a fourth member of the band, especially since it seems impossible that something so powerful could be emanating from as unimposing a frame as hers. Drummer Kevin Vaughn was pretty impressive as well, glowering from behind the set and banging out the snare beats like gunshots. And then there was bassist Mike Lamping, providing the rhythmic glue from a private island of tranquility apparently only he can access. However they manage to put all this together, it works.
The Dame itself was much as I remembered it from my last visit an appalling three years ago (the hiatus being more a mark of my inability to get to shows than their failure to bring them in). There was a pretty respectable crowd for the night before Thanksgiving, some of whom apparently turned out for local openers Chico Felllini. The latter are difficult to categorize—queer metal is the best I could come up with, although neo-glam might be easier to visualize—but they were tight, and had some good hooks, and were pretty fun to watch. About my only complaint on the evening would be that the bar managed to run out of both Anchor Steam and Kentucky Ale, leaving me to quench my cheering-parched throat with PBR.
I've got my eye on one more show this fall: The Hold Steady at Headliners in Louisville on December 9 (they are also playing the Southgate House the previous night). It just so happens I need to be there for work that weekend anyway, but I think I would have driven out regardless. Boys and Girls in America is steadily growing on me; it'll be interesting see see how their whole schtick holds up live. Along with the Wrens show last month, that should make for a pretty good indie rock hat-trick.