Von Bondies, Safari Sam's, 5/23
Bondies Battle On
It’s been nearly 4 years since The Von Bondies breakthrough Pawn Shoppe Heart helped them pierce the indie-rock bubble of obscurity –due both to infectious pop grinders on that disc like the buoyant single “C’mon C’mon” and (according to Jack White, at least) -the widely publicized brawl between the White Stripes singer and VB leader Jason Stollsteimer in a Detroit nightclub. The Fight got Jackie boy in the celeb mugshot hall of fame, but it for Stollsteimer, it's probably a claim to fame he'd like everyone to forget. Truth is, these Michigan-bred garagers were pretty badass before the hit - and the hitting- happened.
Female energy has always been a crucial VB element, both sonically and visually (Marcie Bolan was as fiery as her hair), but Stollsteimers’ raw yet poignant writing style and visceral guitar assaults were/and are the undeniable core. During the band's Friday night gig at Safari Sam’s, Stollsteimer made it loud and clear he hadn’t softened or slacked during the band’s time off the rock radar. Though he’s flanked by two new charismatic chickee chuggers -Leann Banks on bass and Christy Hunt on guitar (original drummer Don Blum remains)- the new line-up proved just as compelling as those of old. Really, though, the singer seems the kind of dude who’d, for better or worse, have combustible chemistry with most.
Blaring through oldies and several newbies off both the band’s recent EP We Are Kamikazes Aiming Straight For Your Heart, and their new full length Love, Hate and There’s You (produced by an impressive array of studio heads including Rick Parker (BRMC), Peter Katis (Interpol) and Butch Walker (Hot Hot Heat)), Stollstiemer’s supple yet vicious crooning seemed cathartic (apparently he got divorced recently) but it never felt self-indulgent or somber or even pissy. The show’s vibe would best described as happy intensity, and by the time the group jumped into “C’mon” (now the theme song to the Dennis Leary show Rescue Me) it packed the perfect punch.
Currently shopping for a new label (they got out of their contract with Sire/Warner Bros. and seem pretty set on signing with an indie) the Bondies hookier new nuggets coupled with spirited sets like this are sure to show that this time, they're anything but down for the count.
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