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Friday, December 15

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Concert Fri Jun 19 2009

Review: AA Bondy & Holly Miranda @ Schubas 6/18/09

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I've walked in and out of Schubas on many nights over the changing seasons and years. On each of these uniquely beautiful nights I walked out feeling like I'd experienced something special. I've seen some great shows at some great clubs, but I don't have this particular association with any others. Last night I walked in to see AA Bondy and Holly Miranda. It was again a uniquely beautiful night, and I walked out knowing I'd experienced something special.

Holly Miranda and her band — guitarist Tim Mislock and violinist Marques Toliver — took to the stage around 9pm. They dove into a cappella harmonies that had the perfect tranquilizing effect, for those who may have forgotten to partake in the transition from day to night. It wasn't long before the various musical layers and textures drifted into the room. Miranda and Co. played all the songs from her new Sleep On Fire EP, as well as some new and old material, including songs from her other band, The Jealous Girlfriends. It was an intoxicating set to say the least. The words enchanting and mystical came to mind quickly, and repeatedly throughout it.

As I stood there watching them perform, I became aware of my inability to be doing much else. There was a sense of sweltering heat, but also the relief of a calming mist. The calm was that of Miranda's simple, organic song structures, that seemed to travel in synch with the distant waves of slow-moving seas. The heat was something else all together. It was something that emanated from her impassioned voice. She released it at times in a sultry croon, and at other times in a semi-schizophrenic swarm of melody. It was as harsh and cutting as it was soft and soothing.

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It was shortly after 10pm when AA Bondy made his way to the stage. The hour and some change that followed can best be described as a waltz between the rising and setting sun. Bondy is an exceptional musician with an ardent voice. His lyrics are poetic in the same way that nature is poetic. He sings with a certain degree of pain shadowing his face. I say a certain degree because along with this pain is a strong sense of release and relief.

Playing a fair mix of songs from his forthcoming album, When the Devil's Loose, and from his 2007 release, American Hearts, Bondy's performance was as astonishing as they come. He stood onstage alone, but immediately became one with the audience. His songs lean toward the heavyhearted, but in-between it all he's simply hilarious. This notion of laughter amid sadness is something to be cherished. What good is one without the other?

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The highlight of the set came when Bondy left the stage to play his final three songs of the evening — "Killed Myself When I Was Young," "World Without End" and "American Hearts" — standing on the floor with the audience. He was joined by Miranda's violinist, Marques Toliver, and the rest of the room in song. As the songs progressed, we sang louder. These are the moments that eclipse all else. This is the haunting intimacy that will leave you with chills and staring in wonder.

Bondy carries in his voice the curious spirit of youth, but also the strained melody of an old dog that has been out wandering the world in the rain. He's keen to the silent beauty found in sadness, and he brings it to life just enough to not kill it. He writes songs that move like cool breezes on lonely highways in the middle of nowhere, dancing through starlight and across sobered faces. This is music that breathes to fill the small, darkened rooms of America at night.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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