Elvis Perkins in Dearland, A.A. Bondy
House of Blues' Cambridge Room
November 14, 2009
Better than: Having to actually attend a New Orleans funeral to feel uplifted.
I confess to be fond of brainy, melancholy music leavened with joy, and, I'm happy to say, that itch got scratched last night by Elvis Perkins in Dearland and opener A.A. Bondy in the Cambridge Room at the House of Blues on Saturday night.
Perkins has a supple voice that was in fine form on Saturday as he and the band covered songs from what is now a catalog of three releases, including the Doomsday EP prompting this current tour.
With a range of styles that ran from indie rock raver to ragtime to gospel, Perkins and Dearland moved organically between electric and acoustic, contemporary and songs written in the late-1800s. The effect was something like a jazz funeral in New Orleans, where the melancholy of his songs of loss and sadness is ultimately swept away by the raucous brass band. To accomplish this effect, the band's instrumentation is eclectic, including harmonium, trombone, soprano sax, double bass and Perkins often playing an acoustic 12-string.
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Calling opener A.A. Bondy on stage for the encore, the band put together a five-part harmony that would make the Oak Ridge Boys blush.
Bondy, a Southern singer-songwriter, was accompanied on this tour with bass and drummer and supporting his recent release When the Devil's Loose. Initially having made his name in the Birmingham, Alabama, band Verbena with a sound that was often described as having a loud and grungy feel. Since, Bondy ha shed that style for a stripped-down acoustic and electric blues that was very affecting as well.
Person Bias: I've been following Perkins' career for some time. Last spring, when he rolled through town, Perkins was looking like his shaggy bandmates. But, last night, he looked again like the indie intellectual we saw when he first appeared in Dallas supporting his debut, Ash Wednesday.
By The Way: The antlers on the Merch Table? From a deer that Elvis Perkins in Dearland's hit early in the tour, killing both the deer and the bands touring van.