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Wednesday, December 13

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« Pitchfork Festival Tickets On Sale March 4 SXSW 2011: Chicago Edition »

Review Sat Feb 26 2011

Review: Dum Dum Girls @ Empty Bottle 2/24

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Dum Dum Girls bassist Bambi (Photos by Dave Knapik)

There's an obvious formula to girl groups: a few attractive females plus revealing clothing and any sort of gimmicky feature equals record company cash. For the most part, it's played out. The Dum Dum Girls, however, manage to pull off girl group without it feeling formulaic. Even though the Dum Dum Girls are four good-looking females, in a band, they strummed the girly-goody-goodiness out of their guitars (or beat it out of their drum kit) at the sold out Empty Bottle show Thursday night.

The Girl's ability to dodge formula may also have something to do with the fact that the group's album I Will Be was born out of lead singer Dee Dee as a bedroom solo-project. Dee Dee combined a buzz sawed up garage-pop sound with dark lyrical themes and dressed them up with sweet sounding harmonies and '60s girl group "baby baby" choruses. Adding band mates, Jules (guitar and vocals), Bambi (bass), and Sandy (drums and vocals), for live purposes. They are often lumped with other in vogue retro bands like Best Coast, but they are much darker, even though both write about drugs and boys.

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Bambi's ensemble (Photos by Dave Knapik)

Dressed in all black — black tights, black dresses, black shoes, black short-short jumpers and black leather — the girls weaved in between the many bodies, drinks in hand, climbed onto a darkened Empty Bottle stage and adjusted themselves before getting on with it. With a hip-swivel-shoulder-jerk motion, fringy banged, red lipped Dee Dee opened with a Rolling Stones cover, "Play with Fire". The foursome added fuzz while Dee Dee's rich, threatening vocals added depth to the song. As a counter balance, the Girls added girly three part harmonies to the chorus. They followed with the reverbed, modern, "He Gets Me High". Even though the Girls can have an Angelsesque, retro feel, not a male at the Bottle would have described Dee Dee's alto as na├»ve.

Following the first two songs, nearly every chorus line in the rest of the sixty minute set included the word "baby". There was "Take Care of My Baby", "My Baby is better than you" from the song "Everyone's Out" and "Someone tell my baby or else he won't know I need saving" from "Jail la la la". "Jail la la la" also put further emphasis on Dee Dee's throwback versus present day contrasts as she sang about needing to be bailed out of jail by her boyfriend. The Angels certainly didn't handle such topics. But the Angels didn't look like Bettie Page gone Joan Jett either.

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Dee Dee (Photos by Dave Knapik)

The Girls also played crowd-jump-inspiring "Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout" and "It Only Takes One Night", both tracks containing present day subject matter. The two part harmonies sweetly repeated the chorus line "Bhang Bhang" — a reference to being drugged out - and the lyrics asked the crowd "Are you dead / In your head"? It would have fit perfectly on the Kill Bill soundtrack. Similarly, Dee Dee sang about her life getting screwed over in a night in "It Only Takes one Night". Finally, they ended the night with a crowd-pleasing, feminine cover of The Smith's "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out". Who doesn't love Morrissey?

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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