Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crocodiles and Dum Dum Girls make sense together

Colleen Green
It must be tough for the spouses of touring musicians, who are often away for weeks or months at a time trying to earn a living.

Crocodiles frontman Brandon Welchez and Dum Dum Girls lead singer Kristen Gundred have found a solution. The husband and wife have taken their respective bands on the road together, and they rolled into Toronto's Lee's Palace on Sunday night along with opening act Colleen Green.

I'd never heard of Green, but her fetching looks, green velvet mini dress and dark sunglasses caught my attention when I walked into the club. She was alone on stage playing electric guitar, and it took a few seconds for me to realize that she was covering Blue Oyster Cult's "Burnin' For You." I liked the arrangement and enjoyed the last song she performed, which used a programmed rhythm track, as well.

San Diego's Crocodiles packed the Silver Dollar when I caught the quintet during the North By Northeast Music Festival in June, but it seemed just as comfortable on the larger stage and in front of more people at Lee's. Welchez is a dynamic leader, whether he's playing a guitar or jumping around with his mic while singing. The group was showcasing some new songs and the lyrics were difficult to discern, but the sharp-edged guitar shooting through the wall of sound combined with the energy emanating from the stage to make words a minor concern.

Crocodiles come across as Echo & The Bunnymen on amphetamines, with a large dollop of Jesus and Mary Chain and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. And when Gundred came out to duet for a song, a Raveonettes vibe was added to the proceedings towards the end of the 40-minute set.

The four black-clad women of the Dum Dum Girls came on at 11:15 p.m. and their rumbling instrumentation with '60s pop underpinnings carried on the momentum. "Bedroom Eyes" and "Wasted Away" were my favourite songs, though "Bhang, Bhang, I'm a Burnout," "Rest of Our Lives," "Hold Your Hand," "Teardrops on My Pillow," "It Only Takes One Night" and "Only In Dreams" ensured that I didn't lose interest.
Dum Dum Girls

Gundred writes solid songs and has a fine voice, and her bandmates' harmonies complement it well. The women have a sexy image and play well enough to overcome any accusations that they have little beyond that, even if there's nothing particularly groundbreaking in their music. But when your influences include The Ronettes, Ramones, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Jesus and Mary Chain, Patti Smith and Mazzy Star, there doesn't have to be.

I don't think I've ever heard The Smiths' "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" covered before, but Dum Dum Girls changed that and did a good job with it to end its 55-minute set.

Crocodiles keyboardist Robin Eisenberg joined the lineup for the lone encore number, the appropriately titled "Coming Down." The slow, brooding song wouldn't have been my choice as a closer, but Mariano Rivera can't pitch every night. Still, Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles were both winners on Sunday.

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