Von Bondies | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Von Bondies 

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There are pros and cons to getting your ass kicked by a rock star: Jack White's thrashing of Von Bondies singer Jason Stollsteimer in a Detroit nightclub in December--and the resulting photos of the latter's bruised, swollen face--generated worldwide headlines, giving the band a huge boost in name recognition on the eve of their major-label debut. The downside, of course, is that not a word written about them since has omitted mention of the incident. Adding insult to injury, their hometown CD-release show this week was eclipsed by White's assault trial, where he pleaded out and took a slap on the wrist. Then there are the death threats band members have reportedly been receiving from fanatical White Stripes partisans. It's all a damn shame--especially since the Bondies' new Pawn Shoppe Heart (Sire) makes the Stripes' Elephant look overhyped and underfed. The Bondies haven't changed tactics since their 2001 debut on Sympathy for the Record Industry, Lack of Communication--they're still dishing out the same punishing mix of glam, blues, and soul (in particularly effective proportions on a furious cover of "Try a Little Tenderness"). Producer Jerry Harrison's managed to bulk up their sound without slowing it down, but as before, the key is Stollsteimer, the focal point of the desperate, violent surge that defines the Bondies' music. Unlike most of the other lead singers in Detroit, he seems unburdened by the weight of local rock history--as he's admitted, only a few years ago he couldn't have told you the difference between Ron Asheton and Ron Howard--and, perhaps uncoincidentally, he's the most exciting front man in town. The Like Young and the Avatars open. Friday, March 12, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

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