I was able to make it into Columbus last night to check out the Heartless Bastards at the Ravari Room in Columbus. Pretty great show all around and I ended up walking away surprised by a few things I saw.
The night started out with locals The Bygones, who have been around for many a year. Sadly, I had never seen them perform until last night. What a waste. The band is superb.
They take the concept of roots guitar rock and fuck around with it. The one thing I look for in a great band is that they have their own defined sound and (most importantly) that all their songs sound different from the next. One minute The Bygones sound like a more direct version of John Spencer and the Blues Explosion, the next they are doing dead on three part harmonies in some 50s inspired ballad. But the entire time they sound unique. The songwriting is dynamic and incredibly interesting. The difference between a good band a great band is important. They have what it takes. I was also surprised at guitar player Matt Wagner. His high harmonies were perfect. It must be all that practice from being in 90 different Columbus bands.
Which leads me to second openers Satin Peaches. I checked out their Myspace and they are from Detroit. I would never have guessed them to be a Detroit band. They sound more like a Chicago band. Either way, they were pretty damn good - notice I didn't say great. They definitely have their own defined sound going. It's rather 90s influenced and a bit psychedelic. Their general stance is to take a cool droning riff, drop down into some nice rootsy verse, then hit you hard with a screaming chorus. But no one screams like the dude in this band. Pretty unique, but recalling London's Suede. Check out their tunes online and see for yourself.
The problem with the Satin Peaches is that they know they have a sound, but rarely reach beyond that. After about three tunes you realize they all blend into one. Nothing frustrates me more than a good band that won't push their own boundaries. Still, I can see them blowing up.
Which leads us to Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards. It's been almost 2 years since the group has hit Columbus. You could see why, because Ravari Room was barely full. It looked no different than any other night with a couple random local bands. I was embarrassed at first. Heartless Bastards can pack entire venues three times the size in other cities. Thankfully by their second song, the crowd rushed in and made it all cool. But still, I figured the show would be sold out.
What can I say about them that hasn't been said. They are PWAH favorites and are indeed among my top three bands in the entire midwest.