|The Von Bondies rocked hard despite a cool reception at Great Scott on a freezing Tuesday night.|
Detroit Rock City met Allston Rock City Tuesday night, as three bands from the former lined up at Great Scott. Headliners the Von Bondies came up in the garage-rock revival a few years ago, though not to the dizzying level of former Motor City pals the White Stripes. A widely reported altercation between Jack White and Bondies singer-guitarist Jason Stollsteimer killed that tie. In fact, the strawberry-blond Stollsteimer doesn't look like he backs down from many challenges - such as the fact that it was a freezing-cold Tuesday night and Great Scott was only a third full.
The first few numbers, including new song "Pale Bride," were delivered with more precision than passion: admirable but lacking that wild abandon of great rock 'n' roll. However, by the time the band ripped into "Not That Social," buzz-saw punk guitars met pop vocals courtesy of Stollsteimer's coarse yelp and sweet harmonies from bassist Leann Banks and keyboard player Alicia Gbur.
Still, this tour is a cog-greasing exercise for the band's long-awaited third album, "Love, Hate and Then There's You," which is due this summer. In the meantime, a four-song EP, "We Are Kamikazes Aiming Straight for Your Heart," is out to whet appetites.
But those appetites seemed dulled at Great Scott, where the challenge of getting the audience on board was a lost cause. Sure, the band's hit single, the feral "C'mon, C'mon," got people jiggling. But several left straight after, just as the performance was heating up. After the rich blues ballad "No Sugar Mama" - which was backed only by guitar and sung by Stollsteimer and Banks in conversational, George Jones and Tammy Wynette style - came the finale, a ferocious blues-rock jam, "Broken Man."
"Everyone raise your hands and clap," Stollsteimer insisted in a last-ditch attempt to rouse the audience. Frustrated, he singled out one guy. "You're 25 years old," he yelled, "[expletive] act like it." If there was an encore planned, the band wisely bagged it. There's always another night, after all.