Band of Heathens

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Band of Heathens

Antone's, Thursday, March 17

They may have been the opening act for the Americana Music Association showcase, but the Band of Heathens set the bar pretty high for any act to follow. Concen-trating solely on their just released Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster's Son, the local quintet sprawled several genres while remaining determinedly rooted in the blues. With songs like "Medicine Man" and "Free Again," the band of singer-songwriters ventured from Motown to New Orleans, with a stop in Austin for some Texas-style slide guitar. Ed Jurdi's "The Other Broadway" brought the Heathens' gospel funk to the forefront, a turn that would have made Lowell George proud. In the past, Colin Brooks has been a centerpiece as a guitarist with the band, but in this set, Jurdi and Gordy Quist matched Brooks' steamy slide work with their own kind of wail – guitar, vocal, and otherwise. The percussive "Gris Gris Satchel" ended the set with a bit of voodoo, a cappella harmonies, and rattling bones. Even if most of the audience was hearing the songs for the first time, the dynamic stage presence of the Heathens assured that quite a few will be hearing them many times over.

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