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Concert Wed Oct 24 2012

Opening Acts Set Bar High at Heartless Bastards Show

It's a rarity when a supporting act's performance rivals that of the headliner. So it must be an anomaly when there are two openers that give the featured band a run for its money. Well, it most certainly happened Monday night at the Metro. The crowd that came out to the treasured Wrigleyville venue to see Heartless Bastards was in for a long night, with three bands scheduled to play.

Luckily, the four musicians that compose the soulful garage rock group have impeccable taste in music. Not only can they play it, they can pick it too. The two opening acts that were chosen to play before Heartless Bastards had both sounds and styles that complimented each other eminently well.

Dana Falconberry (Photos by Brianna Kelly)

At 9 o'clock sharp Dana Falconberry and her eclectic folk band took to the stage. Each of the six musicians had their own distinct, unique look. Falconberry looked like a country western star from the '60s in a classy vintage dress and cowboy boots, while the banjo player, Gina Dvorak, looked like she had just returned from a photo shoot from an American Apparel ad, with red lipstick and glasses with thick frames.

Gina Dvorak (Photos by Brianna Kelly)

All of Falconberry's songs that were played had a patiently whimsical melody. Her voice often sounds like a curious child's. She sings with a powerful whispering tone while she rhymes at the end of the verses in "Crooked River" and "Please Sparrow." Her lyrics are very poetic and sound as if she is attempting to tell a fairy tale through song. It is apparent that her music is heavily inspired by nature, almost like a feminine Fleet Foxes.

The Futurebirds bounded onto the stage immediately after Dana Falconberry's last song at 9:45pm. Nearly every member of the band looked like they had just come straight out of the wilderness. Their long, unruly hair and thick, wiry beards made them look like lumberjacks. So it was very appropriate that all three guitarists thrashed on their axes throughout the performance.

The Futurebirds (Photos by Brianna Kelly)

One of the first songs they played, "Battle for Rome," really showcases their distinct syncopated strumming, crooning and sing-along lyrics. When one of the guitarists grabbed a banjo for the wistful tune "Dirty D," he started hopping around stage with it like he was dancing with a pretty lady. They also played an organic, instrumental-heavy rendition of Stevie Nick's "Wild Heart."

The Futurebirds (Photos by Brianna Kelly)

The Futurebirds' sound is reminiscent of several bands, but it's more of a combination of familiar sounds because they are able to make it all their own. They would be the offspring of Mumford and Sons and Animal Collective after a spontaneous and crazy night dancing together at a hard rock show. Though they have a twangy country-rock sound, they act more like a metal band on stage. They seriously know how to rock out, and their high energy got the crowd going.

The Heartless Bastards' Erika Wennerstrom (Photos by Brianna Kelly)

Heartless Bastards finally graced the stage at 11pm, two hours in to the already epic show. Instead of picking right back up where the energetic opening acts left off, they started at a slower pace and built their own momentum throughout the hour and a half long performance. They played a very nice variety of material from all four albums, with varying tempos. The crowd was the most responsive to the newest material they played during the second half of the set, like "Skin and Bone," "Arrow" and "Parted Ways." The atmosphere of the show was quite intimate, which provided for some interesting banter between the band members and the audience. There was much support shown for "Heartless Bastards for President" and a request for the Black Eyed Pea's "Let's Get Retarded," which was hopefully a joke, but nevertheless the band ignored, thankfully.

The Heartless Bastards (Photos by Brianna Kelly)

Frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom's gruff, often melancholic voice is the most recognizable characteristic of the band. It's not necessarily one of the most technical voices, but it discharges an overpowering assortment of emotions. The addition of a second guitarist, Mark Nathan, undeniably adds to the band's notably stripped-down sound. He brings it onto a more dynamic level of rock and roll. His presence allows Wennerstrom to focus more on singing and strumming, while he goes to town on his electric guitar.

The Heartless Bastards (Photos by Brianna Kelly)

The crowd, especially for its size, chanted loudly for an encore after the members of Heartless Bastards left the stage. They came back on a couple minutes later and bassist Jesse Ebaugh assured some audience members in the front row that the band always ends the show with an encore. They ended up playing two final songs, including what Wennerstrom cited as "the first song off of their first album," "Gray," but that didn't stop the audience from begging for one more when it was over.

It was almost inconceivable how much energy each of the three bands brought to the Metro's stage on a Monday night. It was an incredible night of music, to say the least.

Heartless Bastards' setlist 10/22/12 @ The Metro:

The Mountain
Done Got Old
Simple Feeling
Got To Have Rock and Roll
Only for You
Into the Open
Skin and Bone
Down in the Canyon
Late in the Night
Hold Your Head High
Parted Ways
All This Time
Nothing Seems the Same

Could Be So Happy

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


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