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I have a confession to make: I am a big fan of “girl bands.” The show at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Nov. 15, was not my first Dum Dum Girls gig.

I arrived early at Pappy and Harriet’s and sat down at my table. The Dum Dum Girls were wrapping up their sound check, refining their sound for this acoustically unique venue. A few diners had perplexed looks on their faces; they obviously did not catch the Dum Dum Girls at Coachella earlier this year, and were actually present just to have dinner.

Fans trickled in and started staking claims on front-and-center spaces three hours before the show started. The bolero hat count was low, offset by trucker caps and the practical knit beanie, which was prevalent on this chilly desert evening. I was standing next to a neatly dressed, gray-haired gentleman who came from North Hollywood to see the Dum Dum Girls for the first time.

As the opening-band Ex Cops wrapped up, Dee Dee Penny took a seat on a stack of green milk crates and rocked out to the Ex Cops’ final song. She wore a black-lace dress, which was subdued compared to her sheer, nothing-left-to-the-imagination outfit that caused hearts to flutter at Coachella this year. Penny eyed a small girl near the edge of the stage who was holding a tambourine; she pointed this out to her drummer, Sandra Vu, and then took out her phone for a quick picture.

As Penny walked to her microphone, she picked up the set list at her feet, folded it neatly, beamed and handed it to the grey-haired fellow who stood at my right side during the 18-song performance. They opened with “Cult of Love,” from their latest record, Too True, via Sub Pop.

In fact, the Dum Dum Girls ran through the entire 10-song album, which offers a perfect balance of touching and sincere songs about love. These female troubadours rocked the guitar as they tugged on hearts, wowing the Pappy’s audience by reproducing live what had been pressed into vinyl. A couple songs into the set, Penny invited the small tambourine-clutching girl and her little brother to accompany her onstage.

A few people appeared to get teary-eyed as she sang “Are You Okay?” about lost love: But what if it doesn’t go away? What if this feeling always plagues? I’m reckless at night; I’m sorry for days. I’m looking for you, through lavender haze.

Penny ended the first part of the show with “Trouble Is My Name,” a beautifully sad song. After a short break, the Dum Dum Girls returned for a seven-song encore, kicking things off with a cover of “Trees and Flowers” by Scotland’s Strawberry Switchblade.

As Penny sang “Lord Knows,” she drew everyone close by clasping her hands, as if praying, and gently placing them on her forehead. She followed up with the sexy, syrupy and psychedelic ode to a lover “He Gets Me High.”

The band concluded with “Coming Down,” featuring perfectly sung verses that drew shouts of joy, tears and applause as Penny showcased her vocal range: You abuse the ones who love you. You abuse the ones who won’t. If you ever had a real heart, I don’t think you’d know where to start, ’cause I think I’m coming down. I think I’m coming down.

The song embodies the beauty that is the Dum Dum Girls. Without a doubt, this was the best performance by the Dum Dum Girls that I have ever seen.

Read and see more from Guillermo Prieto at irockphotos.net. Top right: Maila James. Below: Jules Medeiros.

Published in Reviews

The Dum Dum Girls have been receiving critical acclaim and dazzling audiences with a unique low-fi, indie-pop sound since the group’s formation in 2008.

See what all the fuss is about on Saturday, Nov. 15, when the Dum Dum Girls will bring their stage show to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

The Dum Dum Girls began in Los Angeles as a DIY recording project by frontwoman Dee Dee Penny (aka Kristin Welchez). In 2010, the Dum Dum Girls put out a debut album, I Will Be. It wasn’t long before Sub Pop Records discovered the band and re-released the album, which had initially been put out by HoZac Records. Pitchfork gave the album an incredible 8.2/10 rating.

The follow-up album, Only in Dreams, was also a critical success. Too True, released earlier this year, features the hit single “Are You Okay?” which was offered by Starbucks as a free download—exposing the band to a wider audience.

During a recent phone interview from New York, Dee Dee Penny discussed her musical upbringing.

“I grew up in a super-musical household,” Dee Dee said. “I sang a lot as a kid; I played the violin in elementary and middle school. I switched over to choir in high school, and I did choir and studied music while I was in college. I also kind of dabbled with other instruments.”

She said she was a late bloomer when it came to playing the guitar. “It wasn’t until 2008 that I sat down and seriously learned how to play the guitar. I had sort of been flirting with it, very badly, for about 10 years.”

Dee Dee cites one artist who rubbed off on her in a big way.

“I remember when I heard Patti Smith for the first time,” Dee Dee said. “I can’t remember if I was 16 or 17, but for whatever reason—not because I felt like I could do what she was doing—it pierced through that feeling that (playing music) was something I couldn’t do.”

“Are You Okay?” was a song Dee Dee initially wrote for Ronnie Spector, but producer Richard Gottehrer convinced her to keep the song for herself. As a songwriter, Dee Dee Penny is able to convey deep emotions, and there is a poetic side to almost all of her songs.

“Oddly enough, I just gave a songwriting workshop,” Dee Dee said. “Prior to my workshop, Bob Mould from Hüsker Dü gave one, and I caught the tail end of it. He was talking about how when he’s writing, it’s called ‘through writing,’ where he just sits down, and it’s a stream of consciousness on top of some sort of pop structure. While I wouldn’t say I do the same thing, it definitely comes from a place that’s a little more visceral and subconscious. I usually have some sort of topic in mind, and I have the chorus line, the chorus melody—and I just let that be the seed.”

Oh, there’s one other element to her songwriting process.

“I get stoned. That’s probably how I get started,” Dee Dee said with a laugh.

Music isn’t the only thing about the Dum Dum Girls that’s drawn attention; the band is also known for the members’ stage attire: They wear revealing sheer tops during live performances. I asked whether she feels there’s a double standard when it comes to male and female performers going nude or wearing revealing clothing.

“I wasn’t motivated by anything other than just feeling like dressing like that,” Dee Dee said. “I felt it was appropriate for the headspace and attitude. It was kind of a phase, but I think I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer. I think I arrived at a moment where I had a moment of self-awareness I hadn’t had before.”

While she’s penned three critically acclaimed albums, Dee Dee admits she feels a bit of pressure when writing new material.

“I don’t ever stop writing. Sometimes, during the heavy tour scheduling, I won’t write songs for awhile,” Dee Dee said. “It’s impossible to not be aware of expectation, potential criticisms or enthusiasms, but I think it’s ultimately very dangerous to let that be a factor in what it is you’re doing creatively.”

The Dum Dum Girls will perform with Ex Cops and Roses at 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 15, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Coachella’s second weekend started off on Friday, April 18, on a comfortable note: The heat was not overbearing, with temperatures generally remaining in the 80s. Not even the arrival of some ominous clouds in the afternoon would put a damper on the fun.

The Gabba Gabba Heys, a Ramones tribute band, started things off in the Gobi tent at noon. As someone who was fortunate enough to catch the very last Ramones tour during a stop in Cleveland, I can say that the Gabba Gabba Heys sound exactly like the Ramones. When they opened up with “Rockaway Beach,” a portion of the crowd in front of the stage began to mosh. Ramones tunes such as “Teenage Lobotomy,” “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Rock and Roll High School” and “I Wanna be Sedated” were performed with the Ramones sound intact—although visually, the Dee Dee Ramone was a little pudgier and shorter than the original, and the Joey Ramone was much better-looking.

As the members of GOAT sound-checked on the Outdoor stage, members of Flatbush Zombies, who had just performed, walked into the photo pit and chatted up attendees for a few moments. After GOAT took the stage, they proved to be just as amazing as they were at Pappy and Harriet’s earlier this month. The Coachella crowd cheered “GOAT! GOAT! GOAT!” before the band began to play. GOAT performed “Diarabi,” “Run To Your Mama” and a few other songs from their only album to date, World Music.

As for some of the Coachella art you’ve probably seen on your friends’ Facebook pages: In between performances by GOAT and the Dum Dum Girls, Anthony Green was heard on the Main stage saying, “From where I’m standing, It looks like the Robot is going to fuck the Astronaut in the ass.” From the Outdoor stage area, that assessment seemed spot-on.

When the Dum Dum Girls took the Outdoor stage, frontwoman Dee Dee Penny came out wearing a sheer outfit that revealed her breasts in their entirety, save the nipples, which were covered with black circles. They opened up with “He Gets Me High,” and followed with “I Got Nothing.” The sound of the Dum Dum Girls reminded me of the Pretenders at times, especially during “Are You Okay?” The almost-all-female band drew a crowd and put on a solid set. This is a group we’ll be hearing plenty more about in the near future.

In the mid-afternoon, dark clouds began to form over the Empire Polo Club. The wind also picked up, creating fears of a nasty storm. However, that didn’t stop attendees from having a good time.

At 4:35 p.m., the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion took the stage in the Gobi tent. The Blues Explosion never stopped in between sets, and was all over the place with material. One song that seemed to catch everyone’s attention was a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “She’s On It.” The crowd got a show one would expect from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, with loud volume, plenty of feedback and Jon Spencer working the crowd like the master of rock he is.

Around the time the sun went down, the threats of rain and high winds subsided—and delightfully cooler temps made the crowd more comfortable.

When Chromeo took the Main stage at 7:40 p.m., a sizable crowd was waiting, even though Broken Bells were performing not too far away on the Outdoor stage. Chromeo did something daring: The band played two of their biggest songs first—“Night by Night” and “Hot Mess.” The smell of marijuana filled the air; glow sticks lit up; inflatable pool toys were held in the air; people were dancing all over the place. The energy was impressive, but could they manage to hold the crowd with their other material? The answer: a resounding yes. The band ended with “Fancy Footwork.”

The Replacements are on a reunion tour—and the members appeared to have some problems early in their set on the Outdoor stage. Before they took the stage, a couch was brought out and put in front of the drum riser. When the band members came out and started “Takin’ a Ride,” Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg didn’t seem as energetic as he had during other recent performances. The whole band was decked out in plaid suits and bowties, except for Westerberg.

After the third song, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong walked onto the stage in his own plaid suit. Westerberg asked, “What are you doing here, Billie Joe?” Armstrong replied: “Dreams really do come true!” After a few songs during which Westerberg planted himself on the sofa, sang along and played guitar, it became evident that Billie Joe was onstage to stay. Westerberg announced that he was having back trouble, and that The Replacements had heard that Armstrong had always wanted to play with them—so they hired him as an “extension” for the evening. Armstrong breathed life into the set and managed to draw a large crowd to the Main stage. During “Bastards of Young,” the three-ax attack was unbelievable.

A rather amusing note: The Los Angeles Times recently suggested that if a family is going to Coachella, the parents should go see Bryan Ferry. Well, when I peeked inside the Mojave tent toward the end of Ferry’s set, the crowd was mostly middle-age-to-older. Another amusing note: One of the balloon chains broke, sending all of the balloons into the night air.

As the evening’s end approached, and Main stage headliner OutKast was preparing to take the stage, The Cult began to perform in the Mojave, and dedicated their set to a 24-year-old woman who died while attending Coachella last week. Cult frontman Ian Astbury told the audience to take care of one another and stay hydrated, just before the band opened up with “Rain.”

As for Outkast’s set: If you burn through all your hit songs at the beginning of your headlining set, you may just lose some of your audience. The same annoying hologram tent was onstage as it was during Weekend 1, and the visuals were not good unless you were really up close.

Outkast opened up with a stellar performance of “Bombs Over Baghdad,” which probably should have been saved for the closing number. On the plus side, Big Boi and Andre 3000 looked a lot more energetic than they did last week. After performing “Gasoline Dreams,” they went right into “ATLiens.” Shortly thereafter came “Rosa Parks” and “Ms. Jackson.”

Many fans, after hearing all these songs so early, decided to skip out to avoid traffic; after all, there was not much to stay for at that point. It made for an odd ending to an otherwise fantastic Day 1.

Scroll down to see a photo gallery.

Published in Reviews

If you’re going to Coachella, and you’ve never been before, consider yourself warned: It can be a frustrating experience.

Coachella has so many bands, with numerous acts playing all at once, that it can be tough to choose where to go, and who to see. You’ll probably wind up missing some bands that you wanted to enjoy—and don’t be surprised if you don’t realize that one of your favorite artists is playing with a solo/side project you haven’t heard about until it’s too late.

Yes, it can be overwhelming—but we’re here to help, with this list of Coachella performers worth checking out.

Friday, April 11 and 18

Dum Dum Girls: Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto—a fine judge of music, if you ask me—is a big fan of this all-female foursome from Los Angeles. The Dum Dum Girls are on the up and up after getting noticed by indie critics and signing with Sub Pop Records. Now it appears they’re ready for the mainstream. Their single “Rimbaud Eyes,” from Too True, released back in January, is starting to pick up steam. If you like Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you’ll love Dum Dum Girls.

Anti-Flag: If you’re pissed off at the establishment, and angry about having to stand out in the sun and buy bottled water—yet you’re cool with spending $375 to get into Coachella—you’ll love Anti-Flag. The Pittsburgh punk outfit is known for its sentimental punk tracks such as “Your Daddy Was a Rich Man,” “Your Daddy’s Fucking Dead,” “Captain Anarchy,” “Angry, Young and Poor,” “The Economy Is Suffering” and their best-known anthem, “Die for Your Government.” If you question what they’re being paid to play at Coachella, shut your dirty mouth! They’re being paid in anarchy!

Goat: This Swedish outfit put out World Music, one of my favorite records of 2012. The band wears freaky costumes, offers a hilarious back story about being from a cursed village destroyed by Christian crusaders, and turns in bizarre stage performances—so you probably shouldn’t miss them. Oh, and the music is great, too: A psychedelic-rock sound is combined with Afrobeat cuts. You’ll truly enjoy this band—I promise.

Chromeo: Chromeo is the one EDM act you should catch at Coachella—even if you don’t care for EDM. Dave 1 and P-Thugg will make sure you’re having a good time with their electrofunk anthems such as “Night by Night” and “Fancy Footwork.” These guys are a throwback to the cheesy disco/pop periods of the ’70s and ’80s—in a good way. It’s hard to guess where in the lineup and on which stage these guys are going to be, so figure it out and claim your spot early.

The Replacements: As far as the big names and reunions go, this is the best, in my book. This Minneapolis band (right) formed in 1979 and did great things before breaking up in 1991. They’re being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year for leaving their mark on college radio and the post-punk scene. If that’s not enough to convince you to see them, the song “Can’t Hardly Wait” inspired a film by the same name in 1998, about a high school graduation party during which Ethan Embry tries to give a letter to Jennifer Love Hewitt. (OK, maybe that isn’t very convincing. Just go see them, dammit.)

Saturday, April 12 and 19

Drowners: Make sure you arrive early on Saturday to catch Drowners. If you’re a fan of The Cure, The Smiths or any other ’80s Brit-Pop band, you’ll love them. They’re out to make the ’80s cool again! Since forming in 2011, Drowners have toured with the Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines, and Foals, and have a new self-titled album to their credit.

Ty Segall: Ty Segall has come a long way since he started his solo recording career in 2008. With his psychedelic-fuzz-fused garage rock, you can expect a noisy and crazy performance that will make the eclectic-music-lover in you feel right at home.

Bombay Bicycle Club: Bombay Bicycle Club is pure fun. Their songs get easily stuck in your head, and you can’t help but smile when listening to many of their songs. If you’re having a bad day at Coachella, Bombay Bicycle Club might be all you need to turn that frown upside down.

Mogwai: This Scottish instrumental rock group will definitely offer a unique experience to those who have never heard of them. Their songs have no real vocal tracks—just some distorted lyrics here and there in the background on a few of their songs. Still, make no mistake: Mogwai is one of the best bands on Saturday’s bill.

Nas: Nas became one of the more-prolific of MCs of the ’90s after coming out of the Queensbridge housing projects in Queens. Prodigy of Mobb Deep mentioned Nas extensively in his autobiography, My Infamous Life; as the story goes, Prodigy and Nas once had a rap battle that ended in a draw. He’s one of NYC’s most-legendary rappers, so Nas will probably shine the brightest among Coachella’s rap/hip-hop performers. 

Sunday, April 13 and 20

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: This is a rather strange, if welcome, inclusion on the Coachella lineup. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the musical jewel of New Orleans’ French Quarter, and has been going since 1963. They are the house band of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall, so if you want to experience something different at Coachella, they are the one act on Sunday you won’t want to miss. If you enjoy them, check out Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, who are performing later in the day.

J. Roddy Walston and the Business: Ever since Kings of Leon hit the mainstream, the whole Southern-rock-meets-blues thing has been ruined for me. However, J. Roddy Walston and the Business have restored some hope: There are some genuine blues influences in their music, with some lively Southern-rock touches here and there, too. These guys rock, and I’d imagine they’ll put on a great live show.

Frank Turner: While folk music already hooked up with punk rock due to work by artists such as Billy Bragg, Frank Turner is the folk-meets-punk artist of today. Unlike Bragg, Turner isn’t all that political; however, Turner did get some unwanted attention in his native United Kingdom after The Guardian ran an erroneous story about him being a right-winger; it reportedly led to death threats. In any case, Turner’s music is great, and he’ll offer an enjoyable live experience for those who wish they could have attended Coachella last year to see The Lumineers.

The 1975: The members of The 1975 (below) have been playing music together since 2002, and in 2012 (Enough years for ya?), they signed with an indie label called Dirty Hit. Since then, they’ve released a series of EPs, as well as a self-titled LP in September 2013. They’re a hit in their native UK—and are gaining attention here in the States, too. Their electro-pop sound is catchy, and they manage to include some unique themes in their lyrics. This is one band that will definitely be talked about at Coachella.

Published in Previews