By Cathy Moore of Moore Rock Shots & Reviews
Things got really hot and heavy at The Basement in Columbus, OH last week when the Hearts in Hell tour came to town. Fans suffered through temperatures hot enough to melt your face off to show headliners Stitched Up Heart and openers Hell or Highwater just how hard we can rock here in central Ohio.
The show kicked off with a local rock band, My Beloved, who played a solid set of original tunes. Their music is characterized by heavy riffs, melodic hooks, and meaningful vocals that all converge to form a unique and powerful sound.
Next up was California-based rockers Hell or Highwater. Clad in their Hawaiian shirts, these guys absolutely blew up the stage! Their music is crazy cool and they have the best stage presence of any band I’ve seen in a while. The little Basement stage couldn’t even hold their big personalities and vocalist Brandon Saller brought his mic out into the crowd and around the bar to rock out with fans. Hell or HIghwater mostly performed songs from their latest CD Vista and ended their set with the anthemic radio hit “I Want it All” – for which they brought a 9-year-old girl (Renee) from the audience up to chant the title lyrics right along with the band and the rest of the crowd. She killed it!
Before headliners Stitched Up Heart took the stage, they invited their “merch girl” Darling Jameson up on the stage to do an acoustic set of some of her own music. Darling has an amazing voice and a “darling” (pun intended) personality. She wowed the crowd – especially with her folky version of the song “Bitches Ain’t Shit” by Dr. Dre and NWA. I never knew gangster rap could be so smooth and sultry.
And then the venue went dark. Stitched Up Heart drummer James Decker climbed behind his set and played a banging intro before the tiny stage exploded with “City of Angels” from the band’s debut full-length CD, Never Alone. From that point on they never stopped the high-energy, engaging and passionate performance. Vocalist Mixi Demner put everything she had into every song making me wonder how such a fierce and ferocious voice comes from such a pretty and petite package. She is amazing.
Supported by the driving rhythms and riffs of Randy Mathias on bass and Nick Bedrosian and Merritt Goodwin on guitars, the band performed nearly every song off their Never Alone CD. Notably absent from the setlist was my personal favorite “Bleeding Out” but that is because Mixi told the crowd that she could only do one “sad song” per show and Columbus got to hear “Now That You’re Gone.” It was obviously an emotional performance for her as she choked back tears and had to take just a second off stage to compose herself when the song ended. It was an absolutely moving live music moment.
When it was time for the band’s current major hit “Catch Me When I Fall”, the superstar of the evening, 9-year-old Renee came back on stage to not only help with vocals but also steal a little thunder from Decker for a quick drum solo. I definitely see rock star in this little girl’s future.
My favorite part of the entire show was the encore when Stitched Up Heart absolutely slayed a cover of Drowning Pool’s “Bodies.” Just freaking fantastic.
It was definitely a hot night – literally and figuratively. But the Columbus crowd proved that nothing stops them from rocking out to good music. This is a high energy, fun and fantastic show. I encourage you to catch it when it rolls into a city near you.
Jun 30 Analog Theatre Portland, OR
Jul 01 Knitting Factory Spokane Spokane, WA
Jul 02 Studio Seven Seattle, WA
Jul 05 Bottom Of The Hill San Francisco, CA
Jul 06 Fulton 55 Fresno, CA
Jul 07 Chain Reaction Anaheim, CA
Jul 08 House of Blues San Diego, CA
Jul 09 Whisky A Go Go Los Angeles, CA