Detroit shows it has garage-ful of bands
From Motown to punk rock to techno to Eminem, the music that comes out of Detroit has historically been innovative, influential and, most important, fun, fun, fun. So, while the success of retro-rock duo the White Stripes has certainly sparked interest in other Motor City groups, that’s not the only reason a capacity crowd gathered at the Troubadour on Friday to hear the Dirtbombs and the Von Bondies.
The people came to rock out, both brothas and sistahs, and punk-soul quintet the Dirtbombs in particular fixed them up fine, with a sweat-drenched hourlong set that mixed garage-flavored originals from a forthcoming album and raucous, gritty takes on classic-to-obscure R&B; tunes from its 2001 collection, “Ultraglide in Black.”
A veteran of the previous, more underground garage-rock movement in the ‘80s, singer-guitarist Mick Collins looked cool in his wraparound shades, and sweated straight through his silver pinstriped black shirt as he bellowed and crooned about hoping romance would grow, the challenges of being an underdog and the heartbreak of unrequited love. A pair of drummers and two bassists provided an irresistibly propulsive beat, and the players flung themselves wildly around stage, at one point bringing up about a dozen young women to boogie along with them.
The Von Bondies’ preceding 45-minute performance showed that the buzz about the male-female quartet being the next White Stripes may be slightly premature. The band didn’t sound much like the Stripes, apart from a couple of tunes with similar pre-rock roots in old-fashioned country and country blues. But the Von Bondies did release a 2001 album, “Lack of Communication,” on the same indie label that brought the White Stripes to the world’s attention, Long Beach-based Sympathy for the Record Industry.
Now signed to Sire Records, singer-guitarist Jason Stollsteimer, guitarist Marcie Bolen, bassist Carrie Smith and drummer Don Blum played new material slated for a forthcoming album, as well as older tunes and some covers.
Trading lead vocals and rocking with the same gleeful abandon as the Dirtbombs, the band showed some potential with its well-rounded blend of primitive rock, swampy blues and noisy punk that was equal parts MC5 and Mudhoney. Yet its songs weren’t as immediately distinctive as one might have thought, making it seem more a developing act than one that’s ready for a major-label push.
Still, the times they are a-changin’, and thankfully excessive polish is once again not a requirement for pop success. As Friday’s enthusiastic audience response showed, sometimes the mere act of getting down is deep enough to fill the hole in your soul.