Deep Sea Diver, A.A. Bondy, & Conor Oberst at Mr. Smalls

Conor Oberst A.A. Bondy Mr. Smalls

Last Sunday night, I attended the A.A. Bondy and Conor Oberst show. It was a hot summer night at the sold out show at Mr. Small’s Funhouse. The very first thing I noticed was the completely diverse audience. The venue was overflowing with concert-goers of all ages. There were so many high school students who I swear looked to be about 12 years old. As I get older, I have absolutely no concept of estimating the age of people. There was also a plethora of hippies, 30-something hipster rock stars, and a fresh batch of drunk frat boys. One drunken idiot proceeded to spill a beer down my leg as he stumbled through the crowd… For some reason, people always choose to make a path through concert crowds right next to me. I guess being a smaller girl makes pushing through a crowd much easier. I have already had beer spilled on my three times at concerts in this month alone. All of this reminded me why I love small local shows. However, the line-up for this concert was amazing and required a larger venue.

Deep Sea Diver opened the night. They are from the LBC (Long Beach California for all of you non-Snoop D-O-double-G fans). The band is currently touring as an opening act for Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Lead singer Jessica Dobson could be labeled today’s P.J. Harvey. Dobson has a gritty yet smooth voice in the same vein as Harvey and Mazzy Star. I have to say that I was intrigued with Deep Sea Diver’s music. Also, it is always super awesome when a band is fronted by a girl who can totally sing AND play guitar. Jessica Dobson is a rock star. Deep Sea Diver plays mellow rock that is moody, mesmerizing, and still a little heavy at times. Be sure to check them out here:
photo ©2009

Deep Sea Diver
photo ©2009

Deep Sea Diver
photo ©2009

A.A. Bondy followed Deep Sea Diver. Seriously, this was such a great line-up. Every band on the bill had a totally different sound yet they all complimented each other in a fantastic way. A.A. Bondy (August Aurthur Bondy) writes music that is a mix of alt-country mixed with blues. A.A. has a unique voice which is integral to his overall sound. He mixes guitar and harmonica melodies with lyrics about life in the country, vices, and heaven and hell – Americana themes through and through.

I overheard quite a few hipster boys wearing girl pants and girls donning black nail polish and feathers in their hair comment that they had never heard of A.A. Bondy. There was a lot of, “Who is this guy?”. As soon as he started to play ‘Vice Rag’ that quickly changed to, “This guy rocks!”. I guess the Bob Dylan inspired song about life’s temptations struck a chord with teen angst with lyrics such as, “sweet sweet whiskey won’t you be all mine, if you were to fill the ocean, i would drink it dry…”

That said, A.A. Bondy can hold his own whether as a solo act armed only with his guitar and harmonica or backed with a full band. Bondy’s, American Hearts, is a stripped back album where his forthcoming, When the Devil’s Loose, provides a richer sound with a full backing band. When the Devil’s Loose is slotted for a September 1 release. Definitely take a listen to A.A. Bondy here:

A.A. Bondy
photo ©2009

A.A. Bondy
photo ©2009

I braved the first two sets among crowd packed in front of Small’s stage. With my photo press pass in hand, I was ready to capture some great photos of the show. However, I was stranded in a sea of teenagers where it became increasingly difficult to grab that perfect shot. Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to be directly in front during Conor’s set. There wasn’t a designated area for the standard three song, no flash photo pit. You will have to take my word for it that Conor was sporting one fabulous Amish style black hat.

These hats are available at for only $19.95. I am wondering if Amish hats with girl pants may become the new male hipster uniform. I guess only time will tell. That would be pretty incredible especially because I live in Pennsylvania. I just saw real Amish people at a restaurant parking lot three days after seeing Conor in his awesome black hat.

Sunday was the first time I had seen Conor Oberst perform live. During his show, I overheard a few gentlemen at the bar try to unsuccessfully pick up several young ladies. They were sharing stories about the various Conor Oberst and Sigur Ros shows they had attended all over the country. Girls do fall for that “I’m a sensitive male” schitck but guys it is not going to work when you are standing in same room as the original sensitive indie rocker formerly known as Bright Eyes. Just saying…

Here is a video of Conor in Bright Eyes. Sensitive male is he. He sings about his feelings, plays guitar, and is quite dreamy with hair that falls over his one eye. The guys at the bar never had a shot.

This was one a great show. Rarely do I enjoy every band on a concert line-up so Sunday’s show was a pleasant surprise. I’m considering downloading Deep Sea Diver’s album from I-tunes. A.A. Bondy has currently made my “car mix” (driving soundtrack) on my I-pod. For me, that’s saying something.

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