Last Night: Gaslight Anthem and Heartless Bastards at the Granada

Gaslight Anthem with Heartless Bastards
Granada Theater
April 28, 2009

Better Than: Watching an anti-climatic basketball playoff.

The Granada played host to brawny rock last night as the Heartless Bastards and headliner Gaslight Anthem played to a testosterone-rich crowd. In sets that were long on music and short on charisma, both bands played it loud and unadorned. Unfortunately, for bands that feature lyric-rich songs, the vocals were muddy and, at least for me, the impact of the songs suffered as a result.

The Heartless Bastards have played Metroplex venues numerous times in the past few months, with the Granada being the biggest room thus far. Erika Wennerstrom has a big voice that easily filled the space, and the band displayed fine musicianship. But as the set went on, the pace of the songs slowed to plodding garage rock.

The Gaslight Anthem has been favorably associated with some great names in rock, including Springsteen and The Hold Steady. As they took the stage last night the influences were evident, with the band's stripped-down sound supporting singer Brian Fallon's excellent rock sing-growl. Like early Springsteen, the songs tell stories with commitment and a lack of irony. Too bad the lyrics were largely lost in the mix. The band played a tight set to an appreciative, largely male crowd that were familiar with the songs. This hardworking band is clearly ascending.

Nice to See: Music played from the heart with a minimum of guitar and vocal effects and no samples.

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