By Jesii Dee
Sunday night was a bit of a rainy mess at first, which made me a little worried about the possible crowd turn out at Crescent Ballroom for the show. Luckily, it seemed people were willing to brave the mini-floods and still make their way to the venue. The ballroom was busy, but not so crazy packed that you couldn't get to the side bar. The lights went dim as the trio known as Slothrust took the stage. The Brooklyn-based band launched into a quick instrumental song that served as an introduction to the crowd, who may not have known what they were about to get into. Those that were still lingering in the lounge, streamed in by the second song, just in time to catch singer Leah Wellbaum start telling her stories.
I couldn't help make a reference to Wayne's World to my friend during their set, and it was meant as a term of endearment: the scene where Wayne first sees Cassandra and he starts seeing stars and hearing “Dream Weaver”... yea that happened. She can wail! Her highly controlled stage presence was a contrast to the bass player and drummer on a physicality level. But the nuances of her performance are what make them special. Sure, she wasn't head banging along with the complex guitar licks, but the lyrics are biting, bleeding, and truthfully painted pictures that require you to pay attention. Each song had waves of tempo changes, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happened next. From soft swells, quick switching to nothing short of punk rock, it was a wild time from start to finish.
Having seen Heartless Bastards three years ago, and being a long time fan, I had really high expectations. And they did not disappoint. Singer Erika Wennerstrom drew in every ear there, and the crowd willingly stayed dialed in through the band’s impressive set. Their classic country roots were on display, along with the unique vocal styling were like a familiar old friend you didn't know you had missed so much until you were in the middle of their sonic hug. Playing a mix of familiar and new tunes, and showcasing the immense talents that only come from years of touring and five records can bring you, they were able to cap off a weekend perfectly.