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.