Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles at the Turf Club, 10/12/11
Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles
October 12, 2011
Dum Dum Girls sure do make it look easy. They filled the Turf Club with simple, straightforward chord progressions and effortlessly catchy choruses, and proved to be an utterly enthralling band whom you really couldn't take your eyes off of, as they delivered a rousing one-hour set of pure pop bliss.
While watching them perform, I couldn't help but think of the simpletons who stand in front of a Pollock claiming, "I can paint that." And perhaps this striking performance might inspire someone in the crowd to start up their own band, but they surely won't sound (or look) quite like THAT. Dum Dum Girl's decidedly retro sound may appear uncomplicated on the surface, but the band has hit on a perfect mix of gritty guitar fuzz and a confidently cool girl-group charm that proved to be impossible to resist.
After a decent opening solo set by Colleen Green, California five-piece Crocodiles decimated the tiny club with a riotous forty minute performance that was far and away the best set by an opening band I've seen all year. Starting with the soaring stomp of "Mirrors," the band tore through a breathless, well-paced set that drew mainly from last year's stellar release, Sleep Forever, with a new song or two thrown in for good measure.
The title track was an early standout, as well as an impassioned, spirited version of "Hearts Of Love" that absolutely filled the room during its rousing chorus. The band was bathed throughout the set in a kaleidoscopic light courtesy of an old-timey film that was projected onto the stage. And while you couldn't ever make out what the distorted images were, it did provide a neat lighting effect that only added to the sets druggy California charm. Towards the end of the set, frontman Brandon Welchez did a heart-stopping duet of "I Wanna Kill" with Dum Dum Girls lead singer Dee Dee (who is also his wife). It was a joyous, thrilling moment that the band truly wasn't about to top, and they ended their stirring set after the next song, setting the bar quite high for the headliners.
Dum Dum Girls were dressed to kill for a Wednesday night in St. Paul, and their striking good looks got everyone's attention before a note was even played (as did the copious lowballs of Jameson that their techs poured for each member of the band). But once that first chord was struck, the band tore away that pretty outer varnish to reveal a striking, intoxicating batch of songs that easily won over the packed room. The quartet opened with "Always Looking," the lively lead-off track to their glorious new record, Only In Dreams, and never looked back, charging through 15 tempestuous songs in just under an hour.
Dee Dee didn't say too much during the set, other than thanking the audience and telling us that even though it's the band's first time playing in St. Paul, she has family here and came here quite a bit until she was 13. But the set was paced perfectly without much between song banter, and the hits kept on coming, as the fuzzed-out pulse of "Catholicked" blended seamlessly into a churning version of "I Will Be," with all their songs given a volatile, aggressive edge in the live setting.
The sugary '60s appeal of "Bedroom Eyes" absolutely soared, and was a clear standout of the set. But then again, the performance was so strong that there was never really a dip in momentum. "This song is for my husband Brandon," Dee Dee exclaimed before a passionate version of "In My Head," which began a strong 5-song run that got the crowd dancing and closed out the main set vehemently, as "Teardrops On My Pillow," "It Only Takes One Night," "Heartbeat," and a lovely cover of the Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" ended the set on an absolute high.
After a couple minutes the band returned for an encore along with Robin from Crocodiles on keys, and after their stunning Smiths cover, I felt an encore wasn't even needed. But the version of "Coming Down" that the band tore through ended up being the best song of the night, as it swelled to a rousing finish that left everyone around me astounded. I can only hope that the intimate connection between Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles causes them to tour together more in the future, because this performance was an exhilarating, and wholly enjoyable, one-two pop punch that will leave me smiling for days.
Critic's Bias: When I originally took on the review, I was mainly going just to see Crocodiles again (whose opening slot at the Turf for the Horrors a couple years ago made me an instant believer and a fan for life). But Dum Dum Girls charmed me completely with their riveting set, and easily won me over.
The Crowd: Smallish at first, but by the time the headliners got on the place was rightfully packed.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Dum Dum Girls have the best bangs I've ever seen."
Random Notebook Dump: Their bangs were pretty damn impressive, as was everything else about them.
For More Photos: See our full slideshow by Anna Gulbrandsen.
Bhang Bhang, I'm A Burnout
I Will Be
Rest Of Our Lives
He Gets Me High
Hold Your Hand
Jail La La
In My Head
Teardrops On My Pillow
It Only Takes One Night
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths)
Coming Down (Encore)
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