Dum Dum Girls
London, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
14th December 2013
Garage-rockers Dum Dum Girls show off their dark side on a brief UK visit.
It must have been some time since Dum Dum Girls graced a stage in London. Tonight’s show at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen was sold out before I was even aware of its existence. But, by a stroke of luck and a brisk exchange of emails, here I am, among a crowd whose apparent average age would explain a few uneasy faces at a venue where the cheapest pint costs £4.
In a way it’s no surprise to learn that DDG’s fanbase has expanded into such middle-aged territory, their newest material sounding very much akin to the dark side of ’80s guitar pop groups such as The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen. Then again, considering those old enough will have heard it all the first time round, why take the time, money and effort to see what could be construed as mere emulation?
The answer lies in the sheer brilliance of frontwoman Dee Dee’s songwriting, having gone from strength to strength with nearly every release. It’s matched by the exceptional playing from her fellow band members – drummer Sandy being on particularly ferocious form – though the unnecessary addition of a third, incongruously male, guitarist threatens the all-girl image DDG have maintained for several years now.
What isn’t at risk, though, is their ability to deliver the hooks. There’s a trend of Anglicisation among the new songs played tonight, including recent single Lost Boys and Girls Club, cemented by a cover of Pale Saints’ Sight of You and referencing acts as sonically diverse as Tears For Fears, Blondie and Spacemen 3 along the way. It works in sharp contrast to the Ramones-cum-Motown style of older songs like I Will Be and It Only Takes One Night, though the unwavering energy of Dee Dee and co’s performance saves the set from ever sounding fragmented.
As curfew time approaches, Lord Knows is served up as an encore, as well as an irksome reminder that Dum Dum Girls’ releases haven’t quite always hit the mark, it being the penultimate track of the strangely dreary End of Daze EP. That said, it’s hard not to leave tonight’s show excited for what they might deliver in the future, with a sense that next year’s Too True LP could well be their best.
All words by Will Dix. More writing by Will can be found at his author’s archive.