It's hard to resist the impulse to look around for the hidden cameras when the duo Smoosh take the stage; after all, singer/keyboardist Asya and drummer Chloe are just 15 and 13 respectively. But they're no novelty kiddie act. Chloe means serious business behind the kit, and the combination of the drums with alternately delicate piano and distorted organ sounds calls to mind other duos like Quasi or Mates of State, albeit without the former's bitterness and the latter's unrelenting sunniness. The sisters are joined by their younger sibling, Maia, for a charmingly rough cover of Bloc Party's "This Modern Love." Despite the fact that the bass is easily two, possibly three times as big as her, it still never feels like Star Search. Maybe it's because most kid acts are trying to sound grown-up, overplaying to please their parents, whereas most indie rock acts are just trying to recapture what it felt like to be 15 again. Finally: a couple of young upon whom youth is not being wasted.
In true old school girl-group fashion, The Pipettes' band, The Cassettes (clad in T-shirts and sweater vests with sloppy monograms), come out first. The group's Phil Spector, guitarist Monster Bobby, triggers a sampled intro and onto the stage bound, according to their theme song, "the prettiest girls you've ever met." Check.
They launch without preface into "Don't Forget Me," and suddenly the stage is all swinging hips, sideways winks and 1.21 jigawatt smiles. Their EP has only been out a couple of days here, but the audience is singing along from jump, and everyone's having a great time.
Their songs follow classic doo-wop models, with titles like "Tell Me What You Want" and "I Love You," but they also twist the formula a bit, and each of the singers represents a different angle on doo-wop. Gwenno, the statuesque blonde, could have walked right out of the pages of a fashion magazine from '67.
RiotBecki, with horn-rimmed glasses and a nose ring, seems to embody the bookish girl who got into doo-wop back when nobody else cared. And Rosay, all black hair, black eyeliner and black heart earrings, looks more like one of the ladies from Minneapolis' own God Damn Doo Wop Band, the kind of girl who embraces the genre's empowering undercurrent and devil-may-care sexuality.
They run through 20 songs total, including the obvious hits "Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me" and "Pull Shapes", all while swinging in time and looking like they're having the time of their lives. This is girl-group doo-wop stripped of its restraints and put to its best possible use: making people dance in tiny, sweaty clubs like the Entry.