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Friday, April 6, 2012

Dum Dum Girls in Barcelona: sound matters

Dum Dum Girls (+ Arponera). La [2] de Apolo, Barcelona, April 5th

Dum Dum's style. Photo: Bloodbuzzed
I was really looking forward to see the Dum Dum Girls for the first time live. Their music is highly addictive and the chance of seeing them very close, as La [2] de Apolo is a small place, was also appealing. Pretty soon the venue revealed their pros and cons.

Before Dum Dum Girls took the stage, the support act Arponera tried to warm up the (pretty cold) night. But they couldn't. I'm pretty sorry to say it, but what was that? Someone should change that tendency of Spanish indie of lyrics that for the sake of being supposedly funny or odd makes the group relevant. There's only one Manos de Topo, and besides unusual lyrics and an eccentric lead singer, they have some (quite a lot, as a matter of fact) talent and tunes. Arponera doesn't have any of these two qualities yet, so their set was quite annoying.

Dee Dee in action
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
Time for the Dum Dum Girls, finally. Yes, the first impression can't be better. Four attractive women playing guitars (and drums), all dressed for the occasion, with drinks and bottles strategically located. Pure rock'n'roll style, despite the bassist looking a bit lost (something that would continue during the whole gig). Guitars kicked in... but not the voice. Again, the "curse" of La [2] de Apolo, swallowing Dee Dee's voice. Once more on the first row. Once more incapable of hearing the lead singer. The first part of the gig, with "He Gets Me High", "Catholicked", "I Will Be", "Wasting Away" ruined by the sound. I don't know if this fact is the decision of the bands that play here or just a matter of a bad performance from sound engineers, but I have been at this venue dozens of times, have enjoyed fantastic concerts, but suffered as well some disappointing ones. 
More Dee Dee in BCN
Photo: Bloodbuzzed

With that femme fatale attitude there was little interaction with the audience, so the fear of being a wasted occasion was present. Luckily, things started to improve, after "Rest of Our Lives" and the lovely "Bedroom Eyes". Dee Dee, who turned to be a relentless frontwoman, battling against the (excessive) noise, was able to show, slowly, her vocal range. Hits "Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout" and "Jail La La" preceded the super-catchy "Always Looking". And the best was yet to come.
Gig's setlist.
Photo: Bloodbuzzed

Because finally, sound "became" decent. It was Dee who asked the engineers to low down her guitar before starting a couple of songs, but the final tunes of the setlist sounded superb, showing the amazing mixture of these sharp guitars and noise backgrounds with their trademark effervescent pop melodies. "Heartbeat", "Hold Your Hand", before newbies "I Got Nothing" and "Lavender Haze", both excellent (next release sounds really promising with tunes like that), raised the level of the gig. "Sight of You", their Pale Saints' cover followed in a stunning performance. Afterwards, they left the stage for a very short while, returning with "Coming Down", Mazzy Star's close sister, and one of their best songs to date.

With that fantastic end, I left the venue with mixed emotions, half-frustrated, half-satisfied. This band rocks, we were able to hear it for a while, so this concert could (should) have been spectacular.  

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