My musical taste buds have been watering quite some time for the likes of one such as A.A. Bondy; with a down-home heart break vibe that resonates to the marrow of my very bones and lyrics that fuse simple truths and quandaries of soul-searching ins and outs. I must have listened to his newest release, American Hearts a hundred times when at last I found a play date a little west of my one horse town with no stoplights, out in the grand city of Angels. The show was to be at an LA hip stop, The Hotel Café, one of my all time favorite music dives actually. I phoned my pops who lives near LA to have him meet us there and grabbed two friends to accompany me, all of which consequently had never heard Bondy’s stuff before the invitation. We found ourselves settling into a good-sized crowd and I carefully maneuvered my way forward in the standing room only traffic.
Silence was broken off the little corner stage with “John the Revelator”, one of a few songs played that night that does not appear on the album. Bondy’s vocals echoed the ancient mythological power of the sirens. His tall thin frame held the weight of the room hanging on every dry brush stoke in his throat. But just before one could slip into trance there came the thunder of that kick drum jolting the heart back into beats, making my boot stomp steady and hard. For a band consisting of merely a bass player, drummer and Bondy himself on guitars, the sound was huge. The use of controlled distortion was brilliant pulling the last morsel of my patience as we waited for “Rapture (Sweet Rapture)” to come through. Some girl in the tiny and crowded room kept pleading between songs for “Lover’s Waltz”, much to her chagrin, and my delight, she was denied her request each time and even silenced by some dude across the room. It’s not that the song sucks it’s just that impossible jukebox mentality that never dies in the hearts of females everywhere during the silence between songs. Bondy cynically countered the heckler’s appeal with a song called “Love You’ve Got to Die”. The crowd loved him for it.
Bondy, with easy confidence sipping a neat of whisky had been apparently traumatized by a long sucsession of nights driving through the desserts of the continental US. He mentioned more than thrice the droning torture of the black and dusty way by which he had come to us. We the people did our best to welcome him. He had an enthused crowd and supportive duo backing. His drummer appeared exceedingly aware and dutiful and his beats were flawless but soulful. Bondy mentioned that his little drummer boy had just come off tour with Bon Iver- another recent favorite of mine. The bassist was out of sight for me as I was perched on some kind of floor amp to the hard left of the stage and a massive velvet red curtain veiled him from me. Nevertheless the three shared a charged tension of musical chemistry unparalleled for their size and folksy-careless overtones.
I have to say how proud I am for having turned a small but stirred following, within my respective humble boundaries, toward Mr. Bondy. Just yesterday I found my roommate had stolen my computer to give him a listen and even my old man, who detests country music agreed heartily to see him again on his next trip through town. –Erin M.