Music Review: A.A. Bondy

A.A. Bondy

For starters, the venue: small and unassuming, yet well-known for showcasing big-name bands before they were big-name. The hipster presence is undeniable, but combine relatively obscure bands with tallboy cans of PBR and the result is a no-brainer. Regardless, the acoustics are great, the atmosphere intimate, and the selection on-tap reasonably priced.

So here I am: It’s almost midnight, I’m sipping my second IPA, and I have class in the morning. More precisely, I have my second-ever Lawyering Skills class in the morning. AA Bondy has yet to make an appearance on stage. The most I’ve seen of him was on the sidewalk out front a couple hours ago, when I unsuccessfully tried to sell him my extra ticket. In my defense, he’s much shorter in real life.

The two opening acts, San Diego native Aaron Swanton and Canadian JBM (a.k.a. Jesse Merchant) appropriately set the scene for the Bondy set. Or his music influenced their sets. We’ll never know. Classic chicken / egg dilemma.

Both were slow and somewhat somber. JBM’s voice is haunting, and his musical ability undeniable. Playing the kick drum, harmonica, and guitar simultaneously and without missing a beat is impressive; I don’t care who you are.

One Man Band

Just after midnight strikes, AA Bondy and band members alighted the stage. It’s apparent from the first song that he really feels when he plays. His sound is something like a Bob Dylan–Bon Iver medley, but his voice is tinged with a melancholy sadness of sorts. Tambourine, keyboard, harmonica, and (synthesized) violin emphasize the effect. Also emphasized is my sleepiness. My typical disposition towards dancing is severely depressed, and I, like the rest of the rather lackluster crowd, tend towards a tree-like mentality: feet rooted, torsos swaying to the breeze of blues, indie, and folk, all beautifully blended together. The grove is rather subdued, matching the slow energy and gentle music coming from the stage.

They play their “last” song, and exit the stage to a mild smattering of whistles and claps, and return a moment later for what feels like an obligatory encore. Ignoring requests for the popular and new(ish) “I Can See the Pines are Dancing” from their latest album, they play another song or two and then see themselves out the back door. The show was good, the music great; a rather successful Wednesday night. I don’t love him any more or any less after seeing him live for the first time. Tired but satisfied, I uproot and head home, where bed and dreams of dancing pines await.

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