Review: Bonesetters at White Rabbit 


The Bonesetters are one of the newest bands to hit the local indie rock scene, having moved here from Muncie over the winter, and they are busily paying their dues by performing what seems like at least a show per week in the region. During the day on Saturday, in fact, the band’s lead singer, Dan Snodgrass, played an in-store performance at Indy CD and Vinyl.

click to enlarge Album cover for the Bonesetters' debut album, Savages - THE BONESETTERS

A little research and some close listening will tell you this band have an obvious bent toward folk, with sweet, poetic lyrics, simple rhythms and careful instrumentation. Somewhere along the line, however, it seems they’ve turned up the juice and gone in a more alternative direction, while keeping some of the folk rock structure and well thought out layering of instruments like the trumpet and keyboard—which are, incidentally, played by the same guy, Sam Shafer, sometimes simultaneously. But to call these guys “alternative” or “post-folk rock” (did I just invent a category?) makes me a little uncomfortable.

Their stuff doesn’t fit easily into one genre. Oddly enough, they remind me of two other Muncie —connected bands; Everthing, Now! and Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos. This prompts me to wonder if there’s a particular connection or if it’s just a coincidence; is there something about Ball State and its environs that breeds intelligent, emotional, country and folk-inspired alternative rock? Perhaps a question for another article.

What about the show, you ask. I'll get to my point. The Bonesetters played most of their new album, Savages, including the title track, which opens with a bright vocal harmony and stripped-down blues riff. Of all The Bonesetters’ songs, this one lays perhaps the greatest claim to having some kind of Everything, Now! influence. The way they unrolled this song into a deep, heavy, guitar jam demonstrated that they’re not just about tight song construction and that they can really cook if they want to.

Pausing to explain a song and address the audience now and then, the unassuming and affable Snodgrass took a few well-natured jabs from the crowd before jumping into the next song. One particular song, about a poet from Baltimore, “You are Shaun Gannon,” seemed to be the crowd pleaser and got what seemed like a few loyal Bonesetters fans up and stomping. Although the acoustics Saturday night didn’t allow for close contemplation of Snodgrass’ lyrics, Savages yields line after line of thought-provoking poetry and is worth a few uninterrupted listenings.

Indy-based surf-rockers She Does is Magic—despite having of the most oddly constructed band names I’ve ever heard—have a pretty straightforward (but nonetheless compelling) sound. I’ve got a weakness for this kind of clean, uncomplicated guitar rock that harkens back to the late '60s or early '70s, before punk got dirty. Despite their name, I didn’t notice a lot of Police influence. They put me in mind of the Ramones and even Weezer at times. Incidentally, the lead singer said they’re having trouble linking with bands to play gigs with (could that be right?) So if you’ve got a band and want to play a show with them…hit ‘em up. Laura K. Balke opened up the night with an acoustic set featuring songs from her new album, Rumors and Legends. Check out more of her music here.

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Grant Catton

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