Ventura’s The Garage is one of most underrated venues in Southern California. What makes it so great is that they manage to attract amazing punk bands (OFF! and PEARS come to mind in my case) while still maintaining a level of intimacy between the performers and the audience which is something that seems to be getting more and more rare these days. Granted, it is totally out of the way for people that live in Los Angeles, but every once in a while it is worth making the trip up there — especially if the band will not be playing a venue in LA county. This was my exact case for the Heartsounds and Western Settings show that took place on July 28, 2017.
There has always been very positive talk about Western Settings. They really came up on my radar when I had read that Tyson “Chicken” Annicharico (of Dead To Me and Western Addiction) produced their 2016 10-inch Old Pain, which came out on Creator-Destructor Records and La Escalera Records. This being the first time seeing them live I really wasn’t sure what to expect. To put it bluntly — they were great. The band falls mainly in the pop-punk/melodic punk realms and you could really tell that was their sweet spot genre-wise. They were truly in their element during their set. And their stage banter was quite funny, which was a pleasant surprise. The highlights of their set list were songs like “Episodes,” “Old Pain” and “Duncan.”
Unlike Western Settings I had seen Heartsounds two other times prior to this show — once opening for Hot Water Music and another time opening for A Wilhelm Scream. This time was different because they were the headliners. What makes this band so great is their ability to mix metal instrumentation and melodic hardcore together and vocalists Ben Murray and Laura Nichol’s ability to harmonize and share lead vocals so seamlessly in their recorded material. What is even more remarkable though is that what you hear on the band’s recording is what you get when you see them. They really are that talented. They played tracks such as “A Total Separation Of The Self,” “Can’t Always Be Looking Down” and “Nothing Happens For A Reason.”
One of the other reasons that catching Heartsounds on this specific tour was really important was because before the tour started the band announced that they were planning on playing all of their new album Dualistic Nihilistic, which was just released on June 2, 2017 through Creator-Destructor Records. If you aren’t aware of the twist here, it’s that Dualistic Nihilistic consists of one 20-minute long track. It won’t surprise me if the album will end up on a lot of “Best of 2017” lists, but listening to it on headphones is one thing, seeing the band play all 20 minutes of it live is another. And I have to say that they absolutely crushed it. It was one of the most incredible performances that i had seen in quite a while and to be in such an intimate setting and witnessing that was pretty special.
If you are lucky enough to be able to see Heartsounds open for Propagandhi on the East Coast in October (or whenever they play near you), don’t miss them… go early!