Reviewed and photographed by Nichole Wagner.
Louisiana folk singer-songwriter A.A. Bondy sits comfortably alongside other talented acts like M. Ward with dreamy, mellow guitar-driven melodies and darkly abstract lyrics. And as with M. Ward, listeners tend to fall in one of two camps: They either “get it” or they don’t.
At his show at The ND at 501 Studios just east of I-35, there were some of both, although the looks of rapture and confusion can seem similar. It’s all one can do to grasp small glimpses of Bondy’s psyche and soul buried behind the music.
After a stint with the Birmingham-based band Verbena, which broke up in 2003, Bondy released two records: American Hearts (2007) and more recently, 2009’s When The Devil’s Loose. The later provided most of the tunes for the evening, with “Oh The Vampyre,” the album’s title track and “Mightiest of Guns” featured early in the set. Even with a band (guitar, bass, drums), the show was lethargic, songs swaying together. Few tunes seem nearly upbeat in comparison to the rest of the set.
And Bondy seemed moody, hardly speaking between songs and while tuning. Or perhaps it was just the overwhelming heat inside the venue; he did joke that it was so hot and sweaty that he felt like he was on a vision quest.
Opener JBM, aka Jesse Marchant (pictured below), a lone guitarist from New York with a propensity for drums (occasionally he played both), paired nicely with Bondy, a shorter set of lingering notes and introspective lyrics from his new album, Not Even In July. His short set ran over and under organic riffs and indie-folk sensibilities.
Despite the heat, the combination of the two artists made for a unhurried, relaxed night of guitar-driven poetry just right for moonlit summer evenings.
A.A. Bondy and JBM performed at the ND in Austin on Aug. 13, 2010.