The Ting Tings

[12 August 2008]

By Andrew Martin

The Ting Tings are popping up everywhere. A few weeks back my girlfriend told me that one of their songs appeared on Gossip Girl. Recently, I was flipping through the channels when I happened upon a new MTV show that premiered the psychedelic video for the Ting Tings’ undeniably catchy “Shut Up and Let Me Go”. That song then infiltrated my computer when I was using AOL Instant Messenger. I was moving my cursor to close the buddy list window when I must have hit the banner advertisement, which triggered the blaring of front woman Katie White’s vocals.

But this British duo’s growing popularity was no more apparent than at their recent concert at Club Hell in Providence. Teens, twentysomethings, and even a few older folks packed into the venue to get a taste of the Ting Tings. To be fair, the concert had been plugged by Brown University radio station WBRU and it was only $8 at the door, but the people that showed up weren’t wayward fans who had only heard singles like the aforementioned “Shut Up and Let Me Go”. This crowd was chock full of borderline die-hard fans that seemed to know each and every lyric yelped by White.

Setting the tone for the show was Providence’s own LLove, two men on a mission to revive ‘80s electro-pop. Although a few songs were marred by poor sound, the duo had everyone in the club dancing and laughing. Their witty lyrics and in-between song banter helped lessen the usual pain associated with sitting through sub-par opening acts. It didn’t hurt that these guys are clearly talented on the keys. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to imagine them as young boys taking classical piano lessons quickly followed by new wave dance sessions in their bedrooms.

Storming through tracks from the band’s debut album, We Started Nothing¸ the Ting Tings’ basic pop songs were given an overhaul at Club Hell. If I could compare the Ting Tings’ show to any other act I have seen it would be We Are Scientists. These two bands might not share the same sound, but they do elevate their songs to another level in a live setting. Perhaps it was just the fact that the guitars and drums were able to bounce around the crowd in the relatively small club, but the Ting Tings sounded a lot heavier and grittier than on record. Their bubblegum pop-punk came to life and lost its studio gloss, a quality that plagues the album.

They kicked things off with a rocking rendition of “We Walk” that featured heavier-than-normal drums from White’s other half, Jules De Martino. White also went to town on her synthesizer, making the song even more danceable. Next up was “Great DJ”, their grooving first single, which encouraged the entire crowd to belt out the slightly cheesy call-and-response chorus right along with White and De Martino.

White then asked the crowd if we wanted the band to slow things down or speed them back up. After some cheers and a second of silence, they broke into the sassy “That’s Not My Name” that featured more call-and-response interaction during the chorus. The track, a dance-punk, riot-grrrl number, was transformed into a spiraling epic as White yelped and screamed the lyrics. The killer pace continued into the now ubiquitous kiss-off anthem “Shut Up and Let Me Go”. Unfortunately, they followed it up with slightly less enthralling “Impacilla Carpisung”, the only miss in a show full of hits.

The night slowed down during the one-two soft punch of “Be the One” and “Traffic Light”, two mellow tracks that gave White the chance to show off her vocal skills. “Be the One” was more melodic than its studio counterpart and sounded less like a Cure b-side. While “Traffic Light” featured several crowd-teasing endings before the Ting Tings closed their wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am set with “We Started Nothing”. White said the track was intended for use as their encore, but she and De Martino decided to just stay on stage and send the night off on a high note.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/the-ting-tings/