We Want the Folk

October 7th, 2010

A.A. Bondy – The Bowery Ballroom – October 6, 2010

A.A. Bondy took the stage at The Bowery Ballroom last night looking halfway between a prison inmate and a drama student—dressed entirely in muted black, from his shoes to his knit cap. And the music he and his band made matched the look to a T. Bondy opened with “Mightiest of Guns” in Dylan-esque folk style: guitar slung low, harmonica strapped around his neck; drummer playing pedal steel and bassist adding textures on the keys. It was beautiful and soulful and quickly followed by everyone back on their normal instruments and some true-blood rock and roll. While the band was rocking, Bondy’s voice remained sweet with a bit of a kid-stuck-in-bed-with-a-cold crispiness. He used his entire hand to play his guitar, which had a sore-throat rasp and just the right amount of reverb.

“Rapture (Sweet Rapture)” had a slow, mournful pace with Bondy using his guitar to enhance the story. The lyrics seemed to emphasize the dark with plenty of mention of shadows, like in “Slow Parade” which, along with “Vice Rag,” he sang solo midset. As the hour went on, the sweet folk songs started to grow, building slowly into loud, blistering finales. “When the Devil’s Loose” was quintessential Bondy, great songwriting, smoldering build and when the disco ball went on it was the spaces in between the patches of spinning light that seemed to have the most profound effect. Just as the show started, it ended with pedal-steel driven ambience, but the quiet didn’t last long as all of the band In Dearland (sans Elvis Perkins) joined in with three horns and a drummer piling on with guitar, harmonica, pedal steel and bass resulting in a brilliant, drawn-out, post-midnight cacophony to end the show. —A. Stein