The Shondes @ Galapagos, 3-30-07
Note to self: when I start a band, make sure it's as musically shallow as possible. All the hooks should be immediate and duh-obvious, all the lyrics should vacillate between silly and stupid, and all the songs should be bouncy, pointless trifles. As I learned from a certain band that preceded the Shondes (which I'll leave unnamed), that's pretty much a guaranteed formula for success. All around me on that blustery Williamsburg night, there were twenty-year-old girls fawning, shouting back chorus lines on cue and bobbing their heads like pecking birds. Meanwhile, I was just waiting for the torture to end.
When it did at last, the groupies filed out into the cold en masse. That left only a scattered handful of people to appreciate the Shondes, who were setting up their equipment at an admittedly audience-unfriendly 2:15. The spare showing wouldn't come as a surprise at any hour though, as the Shondes were the exact antithesis to their leadoff. Where the other band felt frivolous, the Shondes blasted out music that was rich both in sound and content. They delivered serious, heavy political punk that actually required concentration and consideration. Their songs fused the visceral stomp of a protest march with the nuance of UN diplomacy, but they were more intent on affecting change than achieving cheap gratification.
It's too bad so many people missed out on such a vital live band. In person, Louisa Solomon's full-throated voice rang out even more urgently and bracingly. Even when her messages were inevitably lost under the crossfire of instruments, the passion in her delivery rose above. The band also thrived on the stage, clearly savoring the lively interplay of the guitar, drums, violin and bass. They rocked with a coexisting joyfulness and anger, as both a call-to-arms and a call for peace. Watching their set, the word that kept coming to mind was "righteous." This was righteous music that doesn't compromise or sell listeners short. The Shondes could easily reinvent themselves as another vapid pop band like Scissors For Lefty (whoops, it slipped out) and pack the venues. But they choose to make smart, defiant music for discerning audiences, even when it feels like there's no audience for that sort of thing.
* MP3: "Let's Go" - The Shondes
* MP3: "The Mother and the Colony" - The Shondes
* MP3: "I Watched The Temple Fall" - The Shondes
* Band Website: The Shondes
Tags: Shondes, Brooklyn, Galapagos, punk, Jewish, MP3