KEXP @ CMJ 2011, Day 2: Dum Dum Girls

photos by Brittney Bush Bolly and Victoria VanBruinisse

“I’m for real,” she says, that reality stinging sweetly because she seems too good to be true. Dum Dum Girls started out great – Dee Dee (Kristen Gundred) telling Iggy that girls can be basement-huffing, broken-heart, beat-on-the-brat bomp rockers too with the Ramone-esque use of the name (Pop’s song was “Dum Dum Boys”) – and have just gotten better and better. The sentimental journey of a one-woman band making hissy, trebly noise with a caramel heart in her world of instruments and her parents’ dusty 60s pop LPs, then hooking up with Go-Gos and Blondie production master Richard Gottehrer and adding excellent members to the live line up over the course of two albums and EPs has been fun, fascinating, and ferocious. Just like their music, which has been elevated to timeless British Invasion, best of Sire Records in the late 70s, and sweet lady shoegaze of the early 90s all over their second Sub Pop full length Only In Dreams, just out. Bambi on bass and Sandy on drums should be making a fine, fatter foundation for early anthems like “Yours Alone” and “Blank Girl” (shorthand tracks for “know your punk rock”), and helping to get across the more harmonically intricate, chord-ornate new classics like the outstanding ode to loneliness “Bedroom Eyes,” the sweet ode to a freak “Just A Creep,” and the flowing-over baroque bad trip “Coming Down.” In addition to their KEXP set at the Ace Hotel, presented by Toyota Free Yr Radio, Dum Dum Girls will be playing Saturday, October 22 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York.

The lobby at the Ace Hotel was once again packed as the Dum Dum Girls readied to come on stage at 2:30 pm. Anticipation was especially high, as unlike the other bands that have played at the Ace, Dum Dum Girls stayed out of sight until it was time to go on the air, letting a guitar tech tune the instruments and sound check. After a lengthy wait, front woman Kristen Gundred – dressed in a scandalous all black outfit that looked like something a dominatrix would wear, more than anything – stood up to the mic and said “we are Dum Dum Girls,” signaling that the set was about to begin. Though they started the set off with “He Gets Me High,” they mostly played songs from their new album such as “Bedroom Eyes,” “Heartbeat,” and “Wasting Away,” all of which got huge reactions from the biggest Ace Hotel crowd of the week.

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