Live Review: AA Bondy @ The Bootleg Theater 9/29

I can admit that there was a huge misunderstanding between me and the music of AA Bondy.   I thought I was going to folk show at a tiny little place in Downtown Los Angeles a few weeks ago.  I thought people in LA actually had unique and individual senses of style.  Ya, all of those were wrong at the AA Bondy show last night.  What I got was the largest hipster convention in the world, in a place deceptively larger than The Roxy, and a concert more in tune with haunting rock music than folk.  I woke up this morning and immediately put on AA Bondy’s new album Believers- the songs were still exploring my mind weeks later.

I’ve heard a lot about AA Bondy over the last few years, but never found enough in his music to really interest me.  When The Devil’s Loose wasn’t able to keep my attention for long, and I kind of wrote him off as something I just probably couldn’t get into.  That changed when I first heard Believers- the excellent new album from AA Bondy released this month.  Shawn is handling the review which will be up next week, but for what its worth I think it’s a solid album with 3 or 4 songs making a case to stay on few personal playlists forever.  To truly understand if I liked AA Bondy, I had to see him live.  So I went our to the Bootleg Theater with seemingly every hipster in town swarming around outside.  To my surprise, Bondy was nothing like the folk singer or performer I thought.

Setting a solemn yet carefully orchestrated mood, Bondy opened with the lead track from Believers, “The Heart Is Willing”.  It was a spot on rendition, with a sea-scape projected across a white drape behind him.  The band and music was quickly one with the video projection and sound, filling the surprisingly big theater.  I thought this might be the first song of a great start but that the show would slow down into a more “folk” setting.  To my surprise and enjoyment, the mood and wall of sound provided by the full band made every song extremely enjoyable.  It was apparent immediately that this was a rock show- yes, very very slow at times and one in which moving your feet in any direction would have made you look like you were having a seizure compared to the rest of the crowd, but still a rock show.  The fantastic single from Believers “Surfer King” was the most sing-along moment, and also a representation of just how good Bondy sounds live.  His voice cuts through the darkness and provides that hopeful yet authentic sense of blues and folk coming together.  Other highlights included “When The Devil’s Loose”, a track that seemed destined for the background of tales of misfortune and pleasure in New Orleans.

Whether you enjoy folk music or just good solid rock show of the slower and more thoughtful variety, AA Bondy is a show that should be seen.  Once you cut through or see past the thick fog of hipsters, there is a lot to enjoy with AA Bondy on stage.  With a minimal video production, a voice of his own, and songs of desperation, love, and danger, Bondy provides a live experience that will suck you into his vision of sound.

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