review archive

The Von Bondies / 5678's The Garage, 5th December 2001

NB: References to a) Garage and b) R'n'B are meant in the old sense, like in the sixties and that, not the new-fangled stuff which can't summon up original ways of describing itself.

The Von Bondies are playing, and what with their White Stripes links (a recent British tour support slot and apparently including Jack White's girlfriend in their number) the hip kids are all here at the appropriately named Garage. We spot The Parkinsons shaking their thang near the front and, glory of glories, Jack White is actually in the house, lurking about in spiffy suit and yellow shirt, topped off with a v. fetching bowler hat (á la Acker Bilk, no really) with a feather tucked in it's band. He looks even cooler than in the photos. Hang on, I've just thought, a yellow shirt? What about the strict red, white and black dress code? Maybe it doesn't apply to civvies. Maybe it wasn't yellow. Um..
good old scratchy garage
Anyway, sartorial matters aside, we're in for a night of good old scratchy garage like what mad Uncle Reg used to make in the sixties. The dj plays a rubble of rumbling old rock and roll to set the tone. It's funny how this stuff is having a resurgence at the moment, courtesy of ver Stripes. For years the garage scene has thundered along merrily to itself, ignored by the music press. Kitten fondly remembers the mental Frat Shack Parties, Toerag Studios and St. John's Tavern in Archway, always the place for lowdown garagey stuff. Check out the continuing shenanigans at The Boston in Tufnell Park, and the fact that Thee Headcoats (one of whom helps out the Von Bondies tonight on a couple of songs) and their myriad offshoots have been rattling their crunchy old garage punk thangs forever.
1..2..3..4 The 5678's take to the stage, three girls from Tokyo zipped up in tight, leather Emma Peel catsuits with authenticly ramshackle backcombed beehives. Unfortunately, they begin with a rather weak instrumental dotted with `ooh, oohs' and I fear this is going to be all style and no substance. But then one of them lets rip with a blood-curdling raspy scream of a voice and they charge through some ace screechy old style r'n'r. It's just like The Beatles in Hamburg, right down to the leather and ratted beehives (er ...). They stalk the stage, chew gum and holler their way through a mental set including `I'm Your Man' (huh?). Funny how there's a load of old blokes along the front of the stage, though.
Between bands, Jack White gets spotted and signs a few autographs and Kitten gets thrilled when the dj plays MC5's `Sister Anne'.
The Von Bondies have a two boy, two girl line up. Too cool for school bass player Carrie swigs on a bottle of red wine throughout. Jack White's `lady', guitarist Marcie, looks uncannily like a red-headed Meg White and sports an excellent starry guitar strap. Singer Jason has a spot-on raspy howl of a voice. They begin with an excellent menacing groove followed by stop-starty fractured garage and then slow-burning r'n'b. There's a `Psychotic Reaction' type low down fuzzer that goes `Me and my brother ain't got no shoes , we just don't bother at all'. We get fantastic shouty girl backing vocals, rabble-rousing hand-clapping, smokey story-telling blues, in fact the whole gamut of raw-edged primitive rock and roll, including a heavy Motorhead fuzz complete with screeching feedback intro. Jack White climbs up onto the bench next to me, bowler removed the better to shake his head along. low down fuzzer
excellent starry guitar strap They end with drummer Don singing them into a looong drawn out r'n'b rumble, taking it down so low that all three guitarists are kneeling together in a huddle, weaving crackly sorcery between themselves, as if the rest of us didn't exist. When the spell breaks they're back up rocking to a crescendo. Two encores and we get bolshy MC5ism 'I Lost My Ass In Las Vegas' to send us into the night full of cranked up rock and roll fervour, losing our asses on the 277 bus.
[top of page]