Energy feeds energy. Forgive the New Age connotations, but when it comes to a rock show, the platitudes are true: the more you give, the more you're going to get. This is why the Sean Bones show on Wednesday night at the Jackpot was less than stellar. It wasn't any fault of the band - well, not really. It's the fact that, in case anyone forgot, Lawrence really is a college town. And, little to every touring band's knowledge, the town's concert-going population has withered and died for a week: it's finals. This is why 24-hour coffee joint Java Break was hopping, but Sean Bones' show at the Jackpot boasted a total of 19 people - and that's counting media leeches with cameras, like yours truly.
"It's like listening to the radio," my friend whispered after Sean Bones' first number. It was true.
There was no difference between Sean Bones' live show and recordings. The jamming, ska-like beat? Check. The hoarse, Clash-like vocals? Check. The only difference seemed to be that, while on the recordings, the dudes could be frolicking on the beach in ripped cut-offs, Sean Bones (also known as Sean Sullivan) and his band didn't seem to be having any fun at all.
Besides some good-natured ribbing between the drummer and the keyboardist (the joke seemed to be an inside one), there wasn't much smiling. That's weird, considering that it's hard to feel pissed off listening to light-hearted tunes like "Dance Hall." The band even ripped out a solid (but expected) cover of the Clash's "Police and Thieves," only to be met by disinterested head-bobs from the crowd. (That is, apart from one soul jittering manically in a fringed vest.)
Why? The answer was written all over Bones' face: where there should have been a simmering indie-rock snarl, there was only a slight sneer. It's a shame, because given the band's ska-with-Southern-gravy approach to rock (think the White Stripes in Jamaica), it's not hard to see how Sean Bones and crew could be a charismatic, raucous good time. Better luck next time, everyone.