The crowd was sundry–a mulleted guido in man-capris perched next to an over-the-hill beefcake in a leather-studded kilt. Did I miss the punk-white supremacist/Euro-trash memo?
Fortunately, my summertime cutoffs go with any crowd. And after a Two Hearted, any concern was blissfully left by the wayside.
Cosmic Charlie’s was teeming with tension and anticipation last night as Lexingtonians from near and far gathered in spirited affection for Erika Wennerstrom and her Heartless Bastards. Hammering hearts in a Heartless bar. And lead singer Wennerstrom brought it– a gritty, rough and rockin’ queen bee in a sea of honeycombed flannel.
AjZig and I missed opening songster Peter Wolf Crier, which we ended up regretting during The Bastards’ harmony-driven encore. But after some delicious grilled plantains and attiéké salad steeped in Sav’s West African goodness, we managed to arrive in time for The Builders and the Butchers.
The Builders were hungry, bringing the groans of the Dead Weather and a spider-webby Decemberist-ed haunt all held tightly in the raw storytelling of Blitzen Trapper…with definitive Black Crowes and Neil Young influences. Builders lead singer and guitarist Ryan Sollee’s facial expressions would make fellow ginger Conan O’Brien green.
Cosmic’s was up and jumping and clapping and loving every minute of The Builders’ performance. This was indie rock minus the pop — a dearth easily observed in AjZig‘s visage. While he was wholeheartedly enjoying The Builders, let’s just say that their indie raucousness lent itself more to warped wood blocks, than hand-claps or high-hats.
Great harmony, windingly narrative lyrics, a strident sound and sweet deconstructed drums from Paul Seely and Ray Rude, which really kicked things up a notch. The Builders will definitely continue on this revelatory musical path. Anything’s better than the unending dark of Alaskan winters, the land from where these boys hail. Salvation and sunshine.! Rock on, brothers.
And then there was Wennerstrom. A garage rockabilly diva, as far as I’m concerned. And she had great arms. That passionate playing coincides with some nice muscle tone, chica. #Just sayin’.
The Bastards led the dance and the day, as was to be expected. At the set’s start, guitarist Mark Nathan and bassist Jesse Ebaugh were so confident in what was to come, they seemed plain lethargic — at ease in both set-list and status.
That was fine with Cosmic’s and fine with me. AjZig and I shook our tails and boogied down, every once in awhile staring at each other in amazement at that voice. Wennerstrom didn’t have a bad line, which is especially noteworthy in keeping up with The Bastard’s customary roughness. Bar blasts of Janis Joplin. Simplicity with swagger and no regret.
For those of you who followed Charleston’s Cary Ann Hearst: if only you hadn’t of let that bassist move to Utah, Cary Ann.!!!
Now, the kilted stud is smoking his last cigarette, and AjZig and I are swilling the last of our brews. The performance proximity of The Builders and The Bastards provided an interesting comparison. Yes, I must.
The Builders are ravenous, young and obscured. Talented and raw — ceaselessly searching. The Bastards: whole, mature and well-known. Talented as well, but losing the new, the untried — lost but now found.
As an artist and as a human being, how comfortable is comfort? Should longstanding building walls be butchered when appropriate? Is it ever appropriate? I feel that there’s a time, place and season for both security and starvation — tradition and innovation. And I’m looking forward to the cabaret.