Another month brings us to another Final Friday which, in turn, brings us to another one-hour ‘Compact’ edition of the Indie Rock Hit Parade on XPN! Stay tuned after Robert Drake’s Land of the Lost for a showcase of new and exciting tracks that have been boiled down to their highest concentration of cool. Here are a few of the things you’ll hear in the mix tonight starting at 11pm:
In the world of rock’n roll, there are two ways to become a star. You’re either born with it—as a natural performer/songwriter—or you work really hard, and gradually achieve it. In the case of Dee Dee Penny, Dum Dum Girls front woman, it’s definitely the latter. For six years now, the raven-haired Penny (real name: Kristin Welchez) has written and performed as Dum Dum Girls, transitioning from a shy, librarian-type, who buried her vocals under a wall of feedback—to a confident pop star, in complete control of her voice and her vision. Last night at Johnny Brenda’s, the latter Dee Dee came to play, bewitching the sold-out crowd with her passionate vocals and commanding presence.
The past few years have been a turbulent time for Penny—her 2011 LP, Only in Dreams, was inspired by the passing of her mother, and spurred passionate, affecting ballads like the stunning “Coming Down.” Throughout her career, she’s overcome extreme stage fright and vocal chord injuries that threatened to derail her. The first time I saw Penny perform, in March 2011, she was passionate but fragile, like a baby lion testing its roar. Last night, she proved undisputed king queen of the jungle, slinking through numbers like a feline seductress, and roaring into the mic with abandon.
She was joined for evening by her backing band: two more guitarists, a drummer, and a bassist, clad all in black, like a goth-pop version of Jem and the Holograms (plus one dude). Together, they rocketed through 15 songs in just under an hour, never pausing to address the crowd (save one coy “you make me feel so good about myself” from Dee Dee, amidst cries of “I love you!”) and ripping through tunes with a detached cool. Opener “Bedroom Eyes,” off Dreams, was warm and hooky, the chorus ringing out through the fog, while “He Gets Me High,” off the EP of the same name, was a swaggering, hazy journey through fuzzed-out vocals and undulating bass. New tune “Rimbaud Eyes” was a set highlight, its blustery refrain casting the girls as new wave stars—while “Lord Knows” proved a moment of real musical catharsis, Dee Dee gripping the mic tightly to croon: “I want to live a pure life.”
The band ended its set with a stirring two-song encore, juxtaposing the sultry, kittenish “Lost Boys and Girls Club” with the devastating slow-burner “Coming Down.” If anyone arrived at the show unsure of Penny’s star power, they certainly left converted.
Dum Dum Girls have released a new track from their upcoming album Too True which arrives January 28th via Sub Pop Records. “Rimbaud Eyes” references 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud who influenced musicians such as Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and Trent Reznor. It has an ’80s rock vibe that you can’t help but groove to. Listen below and get tickets to the band’s show at Johnny Brenda’s on March 23rd here.
Noise pop / dream pop rock four-piece Dum Dum Girls announced an East Coast run that brings them to Philly and Johnny Brenda’s on March 23. Their new Too True is due out January 28 via Sub Pop records. The indie-pop meets garage rock outfit puts on a show that’s both melodic and edgy, angsty and ethereal, and the venue couldn’t be more appropriate. Tickets go on sale Friday, December 13 at noon here. Watch the video for “Lost Boys and Girls Club” from Too True below.
Tune in at 10p tonight for another full-length edition of the Indie Rock Hit Parade on XPN! Tonight’s show is heavy on the new music, including a few new excursions from familiar friends. We’ve got new music from groups that feature members of The New Pornographers, TV On The Radio and Foxygen, plus all-new tracks from M.I.A., Chvrches, Blood Orange and more!
Here are a few things you might just hear in the mix tonight:
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10th
The members of Dum Dum Girls have always dressed to impress. Since hitting the scene with its debut album, I Will Be, in 2010, the ’60s-inspired quartet is almost always found clad in matching black nylons, red lipstick, and heavy eye makeup, hiding behind a veil of thick, glossy bangs. Though the ladies have always looked quite mature, their second album, last year’s Only In Dreams, carries a sound that has finally caught up with the group’s aesthetic. Though still creating a nice balance between beachy grooves and low-fi subtleties, the group’s latest batch of songs sounds less like adolescent heart doodles and more like someone who’s mastered the complexities of The Bell Jar. Born in the wake of lead singer Dee Dee’s mother’s lost battle to cancer, Only In Dreams strays from the typical boy-crazy narratives and instead acts as a cathartic confession of insomnia, restlessness, and change. Dum Dum Girls performs with Veronica Falls at 9 p.m. at Voyeur; tickets to the 21+ show are $15. —Marielle Mondon
Also Playing: This Will Destroy You + Mountains, Amen Dunes, Power Animal at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $12); Ryan Cabrera + Jennings at Tin Angel (10:30 p.m., all ages, $15); Vintage Kicks + Clone Justice, Bulletproof Tigers at Milkboy Philly (9:30 p.m., 21+, $8–$10)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11th
Andrew Lipke performs with Exit Clov and Marc Silver at 9:30 p.m. at Milkboy Philly; tickets to the 21+ show are $10–$12.
Also Playing: Umphrey’s McGee + Work Drugs at Electric Factory (8:30 p.m., all ages, $25); The Summer Set + The Cab, He Is We, Days Difference, Paradise Fears at Union Transfer (6:30 p.m., all ages, $15); Man The Fire + Scoop The Freak, The Naked Sun at North Star Bar (9 p.m., 21+, $7–$9)
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12th
Woollen Kits + Pet Milk at The Level Room (9 p.m., 21+, $7); Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe Presents The Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” at Union Transfer (8 p.m., all ages, $20)
Recognizing Dum Dum Girls’ lead singer in a context outside of stage performance is likely no easy task. As the frontwoman of the low-fi garage-rock quartet, Dee Dee (known as “Kristen Gundred” in the non-Dum Dum Girls world) blurs in with the rest of the band in a flash of American Apparel hot shorts, caked-on makeup, and shiny black hair. In order to distinguish themselves from other female-fronted, retro-tinged bands (such as The Vivian Girls and Best Coast), the members of Dum Dum Girls don irreverent stage names and semi-goth, semi-glam pin-up costumes. If you can make it past the color-coordinated instruments and excessive hip thrusting, however, you can see just how vulnerable Dee Dee makes herself while performing—perhaps putting more of her real life on display than even the most earnest of folk singers.
The band’s performance at Union Transfer was one stop of many in a long string of shows promoting Dum Dum Girls’ second full-length album, Only In Dreams, the significantly moodier follow-up to last year’s I Will Be. Since the release of the album, Dee Dee has attributed the shift in lyrical content—less focus on puppy love and more lengthy ballads detailing bouts of sleeplessness and anxiety—to the recent loss of her mother to cancer and to the separation anxiety from her husband (Brandon Welchez, lead singer of last night’s second opening band, Crocodiles) while touring last year. Though many lyrics from the new album are vague enough for listeners to apply to the age-old tales of heartache and boy problems, many pieces of the group’s performance still allowed space for interpretation beyond those topics.
Dee Dee took the stage before the rest of her bandmates to sing Crocodiles’ “I Wanna Kill,” with her husband during the band’s opening set; the couple ended the song with cutesy stage PDA, clearly eliminating the separation anxiety from last year’s tour. She left the stage without a word, and when she returned with her band, she went from one song immediately to another, stopping only to thank the crowd every now and again. A few songs into the set, the group performed “Bedroom Eyes,” the first single from Only In Dreams. The song comes off as a seductive take on longing and helplessness with the repeated chorus, “I need your bedroom eyes,” though it was difficult to discern such helplessness from anyone other than Dee Dee. Bambi, the red-headed bassist, looked fashionably bored throughout the entire show, while guitarist Jules cracked approximately one smile somewhere during the set’s first half. That sense of determined ennui stayed consistent throughout the show, which ended with a well-received cover of The Smith’s “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.”
For its one-song encore, the band performed “Coming Down,” a new track that, coming in at about seven minutes, is by far the longest recorded by the group yet. Though Bambi was still frowning in the corner, Dee Dee did something different with her voice, offering the crowd a long-noted cry with the lyrics, “You abuse the ones who love you.” That brief point within the show acted as a hint of what Dum Dum Girls has to offer beyond its black-on-black-on-black get up and bangs; just as quickly as it came, though, the band was finished playing. —Marielle Mondon