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The crowd at the Brighton Music Hall grew restless as the glowing red numbers on the clock above the stage ticked by. At 10:56 the Dum Dum Girls finally took the stage. Each dressed in a black lacy ensemble and sporting the same straight across bangs, the quartet conveys a look that is intimidatingly cool; and as I found out during their set, not only are the girls beautiful, but they are immensely talented as well.
The Dum Dum Girls opened their set with “Mine Tonight,” the opening track off their most recent EP. The girls nodded along to the dreamy, lo-fi tune as singer Dee Dee (aka Kristin Gundred) murmured into the microphone lyrics regarding mortality and melancholy: “I’ve dreamed a death/It’s mine tonight.”
After their deceptively slow opener, the Dum Dum Girls kicked it into gear with their next two songs, “He Gets Me High” and “I Will Be”. More angsty and more rocking, these two songs set the pace for the rest of the night, getting the crowd moving and invigorating the intimate venue. Dee Dee and guitarist Jules stood powerfully at their mics, swinging their guitars in unison, as Dee Dee assured the subject of “I Will Be,” “I’m your kind/I will be your girl/You can have my word.” The Dum Dum Girls perform with this same sense of confidence. They do what they do very well: play short, garage-influenced rock songs, and look cool doing it.
Since releasing their full-length debut I Will Be in March of 2010, the Dum Dum Girls have released a steady stream of music: He Gets Me High and Only In Dreams in 2011, and now the five song EP End of Daze, released in September.
Halfway through the show, Dee Dee addressed the crowd. “You guys are the loudest Boston crowd we’ve ever had,” she exclaimed. “We didn’t think you liked us.” Desperate to please, the crowd rose to fulfill her proclamation, singing and dancing and yelling requests. Eliciting even more reaction was the bassist Malia, who announced that she had gone to college in Boston. “It feels good to be back here,” she said with an earnest smile at the crowd’s cheers.
Another track off End of Daze, “Season of Hell”, was met with ample applause, the audience appreciating the driving beat and twinkling guitars. The song fits nicely into the Dum Dum Girl’s very specific vibe. Whether they are performing moody ballads or louder guitar pop, they maintain a cohesive sound more than the sum of its parts. It’s not Dee Dee’s voice or Jule’s guitar or Sandy’s drums that stand out: working together, they combine to create their own brand of California pop with an edge — and it works.
One of the most emotional moments of the night came with “I Got Nothing”, also off End of Daze. Dee Dee’s voice warbled into the microphone as she crooned, “I close my eyes, recall the time/nothing was wrong, I knew what was mine/Now I can’t sleep, I’m sinking deep/I don’t understand, I don’t know where I am.” The Dum Dum Girls closed their set with back to back rockers: their own “Lavendar Haze” and a cover of the Pale Saint’s “Sight of You”. “Lavendar Haze” featured a killer guitar solo by Jules, and “Sight of You” closed the show with a fury of foot stomps escalating into a frenzy of noise.
At the crowd’s request, the girls returned to the stage for a three-song encore. First up, 2009’s “Catholicked,” followed by the na-na-na filled “Jail La La.” For the last song of the night, The Dum Dum Girls opted for the slower, ambient “Lord Knows,” leaving the audience in a thoughtful trance.