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[live review] Dum Dum Girls + Widowspeak + Punks On Mars @ The Paradise

Indie bands with conspicuous reverences for ‘60s girl groups started to bore me six months ago, but DUM DUM GIRLS more than justified their continued existence Wednesday night at the Paradise.

I once didn't understand why songstress Kristin Gundred codenamed herself “Dee Dee.” But DDG's live show packed a distinctive Ramones-y “oomph” that's present but understated on their day-dreamy second record, Only in Dreams. Also, just like the Ramones, there are four of them, they all wore black, every song had basically the same drum beat, and every DDG except the newly recruited bass player has the same hair – black with long bangs. Hopefully the new bassist does not assimilate herself and adopt the same hairdo. That would be creepy. But the Californian constituents of Sub Pop Records nailed three- and four- part vocal harmonies at various times the other night.

Even if Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny could be exhumed as zombies and submitted to extensive vocal coaching, they wouldn’t be able to match DDG's singing chops.   

Complaints: They neglected to play their outstanding rendition of “There is a Light that Never Goes Out,” although I could see why they'd want to save that for special occasions. And their whole set, including a righteous delivery of "Coming Down" for the encore, took up a little under an hour.

Somebody (I forget who and where) wrote that Dee Dee sings like Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star. This is not the case. But the soothing, distance-evoking, whopping sighs of Molly Hamilton from WIDOWSPEAK sound exactly like Sandoval, which is basically a good thing. Robert Earl Thomas' sparse, accenting-oriented lead-guitar style recalls the Desperado soundtrack. Meanwhile, his general shagginess makes him look plucked out of an Allman Brothers cover band, meaning he plays the opposite way of how you’d expect him to play by looking at him.

Complaint: In the middle of “Gun Shy,” probably the strongest song in Widowspeak’s repertoire, four or five really obnoxious young women gleefully shouted at each other like BU freshmen on the T, five or six feet from where I stood. Their bleating drowned out the song (probably not for the whole club, but probably for anyone, I guess, within five or six feet) and that should not be possible at a rock concert. Widowspeak need to play louder.

PUNKS ON MARS borrowed the intro from Gary Glitter’s “Rock ‘n Roll, Pt. 2,” a.k.a the "Hey" song, for their set-concluding number. It felt like a bait-and-switch. I got all excited, expecting Punks on Mars to fulfill their implicit promise to perform “Rock and Roll Pt. 2.” But Punks on Mars played an entirely different song, a song not even close to as good as Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Pt. 2." 

For this affront, I will not write anything encouraging or positive about them.  

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