Baltimore, ‘Bama and Brooklyn

The other week I extended my Baltimore fix by checking out Wilderness at Cake Shop. The Jagjaguwar band is a very East Coast post-punk affair. Bands like Mission of Burma and Fugazi come to mind, and singer James Johnson’s voice oscillates in a unique, arching way that is off-putting but simultaneously the band’s biggest enticement.

San Serac opened for Wilderness and did the indie electro/dance thing with proficiency. Wilderness fans, though, understandably were not the most dance-inclined audience.

The next night I headed to Park Slope in Brooklyn to see A.A. Bondy and Steve Burns and the Struggle at Union Hall. Burns, who you might know from his time as the loveable host of the children’s TV show “Blues Clue,” put on an interesting show involving laserpointers, a choose-your-own-adventure-like projection accompaniment and a puppet. Along with these embellishments Burns and the Struggle brought well-crafted pop songs with a tolerable dose of sentimentality.

A.A Bondy is one of those rare “singer-songwriters” who avoids being cringe-worthy. With a gritty Southern edge and a chiseled, concentrated look on his face, Bondy digs deep enough into both himself and America’s men-with-guitars history to bring out music that is solid, honest and energetic. Hop over to NPR to hear to listen to him playing at SXSW this past year.

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