By Joseph Sutton-Holcomb / Special to The Seattle Times
It’s seldom that every band slated to play a show performs equally well, but the three rock acts at Neumos Saturday night made it nearly impossible to pick favorites.
The equally dreamy and sunny/surfy Dum Dum Girls were headlining, but the two openers, Seattle’s Grave Babies and Portland’s Blouse, served as impeccable appetizers to the main course.
Part of the reason for this is that the three bands’ sounds were complementary without being overly similar. Grave Babies, the first, was also the heaviest. The definitive elements of its sound were dual percussion (i.e. live drums and programmed beats) and Morrissey-esque vocals that seemed poised to succumb under the weight of liberal reverb effects. Grave Babies gave the most innovative performance of the night.
Blouse’s sound also leaned heavily on reverb, but lead singer Charlie Hilton’s songwriting tended toward the melodic and artisanal, and the band tended to slide into relaxed jam interludes for long periods of time.
These two openers represented the yin and yang of Dum Dum Girls’ sound, Grave Babies being the edgy, hard-hitting yin and Blouse the sunny, jangly yang.
There was a longer break between Blouse and Dum Dum Girls, during which time the operators of Neumos did something that I’d like to see repeated: a sort of mini DJ set between acts.
The set list was a total genre departure. They were bumping Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, and Rihanna. But it got some of us to start dancing while we waited for the headliner. It was lovely to see the venue crew put a little extra thought into the interlude music.
When Dum Dum Girls came on, the set was nice and snappy. Most of the band’s songs adhere to the three-minute verse-chorus-verse formula, so the band was able to bust out a ton of back catalogue material during its hour-long performance.
The live versions of the newer songs were curveballs. The latest LP, “Too True” has very slick production that diverges slightly from the band’s older sound, suggesting that the band had drifted away from rock and toward dream pop.
This turned out not to be the case. The new tracks sounded delightfully fuzzy and surfy, just like the older material. Exploring those sonic change-ups live might be a good idea in the future, but for now, it was more than enough to see these three competent bands play back to back.