The Von Bondies
SXSW Live Shots
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., March 19, 2004
The Von BondiesStubb's, Wednesday, March 17 Seeing the Von Bondies take the stage just as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" finished playing on the house PA could've been taken as a hopeful sign of magical Motown convergence. Except, of course, for the cold, hard fact that this Detroit quartet is far too predicated on a thoroughly worn model to make a seismic dent beyond its designated niche. That said, the group put on a nod-worthy if not transcendent display of Stooge-infested garage punk Wednesday that had just enough showmanship to delineate them from the pack of acts plying similar territory. Opening with the title track from 2001's Lack of Communication, the Von Bondies found the groove with "Broken Man," an homage to scenester inertia from the just-released Pawn Shoppe Heart. The live presence of guitarist/vocalist Jason Stollsteimer is more formidable than on disc. His voice suggests a radical fusion of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Ian Astbury. Guitarist Marcie Bolen and bassist Carrie Smith pitch in backing vocals with the disinterested tone of tranquilized cheerleaders. Smith also got in a good lead vocal turn on "Not That Social," featuring the bumper-sticker-worthy lyric, "You're not that social, just a good drinker." The single "C'mon C'mon" was catchy enough to warrant mix treatment between the Hives and Jet, but ultimately, the whole thing sounded more studied than inspired. The crowd's tepid response offered further evidence that such overt derivations aren't likely to be up to the task of "saving" rock & roll.
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