27 Mar 2012: Divan du Monde Paris
Cloaked in black and donning their trademark stockings, the Dum Dum Girls brought an energetic live show to European shores as part of their, “Conquering the Hearts Tour”. And in a brisk, determined fashion, the ladies did just that—while undoubtedly breaking a few in the process.
It was all business from the opening notes of “He Gets Me High”, from the EP of the same name, which instilled an immediate frenetic energy throughout the room. Shortly after, the band’s musical progression from their first record to their most recent was on full display with the juxtaposition of, “I Will Be”, from the band’s first full length, followed by “Bedroom Eyes” from last years, Only in Dreams. The recorded versions of these two tracks side by side, are like night and day, with the raw, detached basement feel of “I Will Be” in the role of night, and against decidedly sunnier, pop feel of “Bedroom Eyes”. However, the difference was not nearly as perceptible live, largely due to the increasingly confident vocals of lead singer Dee Dee.
While the newest record employs a much cleaner, refined production sound, the most striking difference from the last record is a more prominent vocal, and it is for the better. Dee Dee’s newly showcased vocal strength takes more of a front seat and with it brings a greater sense of urgency to the music. This confidence (or whatever is behind the shift) is also spilling over to the band’s presence on stage, as they break from the more stoic image they crafted early on. Seemingly more at ease, their enjoyment on stage carried over to the audience.
The setlist provided a fairly even mix of new, old and even the unreleased. The middle of the set featured, “Rest of Our Lives”, “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout” and “Jail La La” from the first record, followed up by “Teardrops on My Pillow” and “Hold Your Hand” from the most recent record. Towards the end of the set, Dee Dee introduced the song “I Got Nothing” by stating, “This is a new one. It will be on the next EP.” The song continues on the same trajectory as the last record, with the band utilizing vocal harmonies to even greater effect. Pounding drums and bass provide the sole backdrop for the first verse, which then opens up to a sweet vocal harmony for its chorus, masking the more somber sentiment in the lyrics, “I’ve got nothing to say / From this day on.”
The band came back out for a final farewell performing their latest video single “Coming Down”. It’s a moody number, with reverb drenched chords strummed alongside Dee Dee’s now prominent vocals. The track borrows its melody from Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” but shortly into the song it becomes their own. The climax arrives mid-song as Dee Dee belts out the lyric, “I think I’m Coming Down / There I go”, which gives way to a jangling guitar solo. The moment is fleeting but the impression is lasting. It’s enough to realize the entire evening had been building to that one singular moment. If only every evening I could be sent off into the night in such a manner.
// Notes from the Road
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