A.A. Bondy, JBM Mango's August 14, 2010
Aftermath has attended several concerts in this town where it seems that the universe is trying its damnedest to make sure that everyone has a crappy time. Honestly, we wish the universe would leave Houston alone these days, because there are already enough bands that ignore our fair city.
On this night, not only did we participate in another battle in the never-ending war against the heat and humidity that regularly plagues us every summer, but we did so without the aid of air conditioning.
That's right - Mango's lived up to its unofficial title as the "sweatiest venue in town," doing so with only 60 or so people in attendance. Thankfully, the sweat failed to derail everyone's mood, since we were anxious to see JBM and A.A. Bondy sing their woebegone, enchanting folk tunes.
In fact, we'd go as far to say that the sweaty confines added to and amplified the insular, intimate atmosphere created by the two gentlemen.
JBM (above), the stage name of Jesse Marchant, began his set around 9:30 p.m., and over the course of seven songs and 40 minutes, his clear, plaintive voice effectively hushed the hum of the crowd and compelled people to pay attention.
Operating primarily from an acoustic guitar, he performed key tracks from his July 2010 release, Not Even In July, opting only occasionally for an electric guitar, a harmonica and a seat behind a small trap set that allowed him to work a kick drum and high hat while strumming a guitar. The spirit of the troubadour was in full effect on this night, as JBM responded humbly and appreciatively to the tenor of the crowd.
When A.A. Bondy hit the stage around 10:30, we were beset by some mild technical difficulties and an annoying gaggle of six or so frat-daddy dudebros. Dealing with some monitor feedback and a microphone that went dead before the fifth song is part and parcel with being a touring musician, but not everyone enjoys hearing some random drunk jock yelling out that the music would sound better if Bondy would remove his shirt.
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Luckily, the sound guy at Mango's fixed his issues quickly, and Bondy and bandmates laughed at the heckling (though there were folks in the crowd voicing their displeasure at the loudmouth's yammering).
Thus, despite the lack of air conditioning and the presence of an annoying asshole, Bondy worked his way through thirteen songs, as he worked from 2007's American Hearts and 2009's When The Devil's Loose. Set highlights included "Mightiest Of Guns," a version of "Oh The Vampyre" that was deconstructed and run through the blues, "Black Rain, Black Rain," and a dirge-styled "When The Devil's Loose."
The crowd, who frequently sang along to the music, really enjoyed seeing Bondy willingly sweat through his shirt during his hour-long set, all because he was having a good time in Houston.
So, take that universe - it's going to take more than some heat, humidity, and a bellowing buff bro to keep us from enjoying great music in our town.
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Personal Bias: Aftermath already enjoyed the music of A.A. Bondy and JBM before going to the show.
The Crowd: Of the around 60 people in attendance, most really wanted to be there to see these two acts play, minus the few annoying dude-bros.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I know I should be used to this sort of heat and humidity in Houston, but this is the 21st century."
Random Notebook Dump: Once people started ignoring the sweat and started paying attention to their beers, A.A. Bondy's set pleasantly devolved into a drunken front-porch jam session.