CMJ ’09 Highlights: Pete & the Pirates

I overdid it this year at CMJ, breaking most of my rules of weeklong festival-going — "don't forget to eat," "no booze after 1AM," "make time for a nap," — and spent most of the week following in bed with a bad cold. I will probably not go back and recount all of this year's fest, but without a doubt my favorite band of the week was Pete & the Pirates who were so good at their first show of the week (10/21 at the Bell House) I ended up seeing them three more times during the course of CMJ. The band are so tight, so tunefull, so entertaining to watch (and not in a showy way) that I don't know how you could go away unimpressed.

The Bell House show was the closest P&Ps did to a full show. They headlined, the crowd was genuinely pumped to see their first NYC show and seemed to know all the words, and we stomped and clapped until they sheepishly came back for an encore. But the best gig was probably at the Brooklyn Vegan day party at Pianos on Saturday (10/24) where they played with no monitors and almost in the dark. But again, the crowd was so into it, Pete & the Pirates lit up the room with their own energy. It was such a success, Pianos had them play again later in the day in the main room. The crowd was even into the three or four new songs the band tried out on us and I think we're all counting the days till we can hear them again — whether it's a new album, or another visit to these shores.

MP3 Pete & the Pirates – Jennifer

Here's video I shot of them doing "Bright Lights" from the Bell House gig:

CMJ ’09: Dum Dum Girls | Mercury Lounge | 10.24.2009


This was the first day of Dum Dum Girls existence as a live band, but clearly they spent a lot of time working out the details, from the look — bangs, gorgeous Silvertone guitars and bass, extremely short black dresses and stockings — to the sound, which is somewhere between the Velvet Underground and '60s girl groups. It was an impressive debut, hot and cool at the same time. I kept thinking, "this is what the Velvet Underground might sound like if all the members were Nico."

Now technically Dum Dum Girls played before Saturday, at the Woodsist / Captured Festival, and some West Coast dates, each with different line-ups. Which could happen again. But this felt like the first real version. The Woodsist fest Dum Dum Girls featured Crocodiles' Brandon Welchez on guitar, Blank Dogs' Mike Sniper on Bass and Dee Dee (who is Dum Dum Girls on record and is married to Welchez) not donning a guitar. That version, which you can see video of, was much more a post punk / goth sort of sound; here the songs felt like a dream, an ethereal haze of reverbed guitars and pristine harmonies. An impressive debut.

Apart from Dee Dee, the only constant between the two line-ups is drummer Frankie Rose who brought some new beats to the mix, along with her signature driving motorik style she perfected in Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts. She'll play some East Coast dates where Dum Dum Girls will open for King Kahn and the Shrines. She's old pals with Dee Dee, but Frankie's got her own band now so don't expect her to be a regular member.

Also, if you missed Dum Dum Girls on Saturday, they're playing tonight at Bruar Falls with Girls at Dawn (not bad when the opened for Fresh & Onlys recently) and Reading Rainbow. Now the BF website tries to be sly about it — "EXTRA SPECIAL SMART SMART GUEST BAND" — but both Girls at Dawn and Dum Dum Girls' have it on their MySpace pages, so the cat's officially out of the bag.

MP3: Dum Dum Girls – Jail La La

Jail La La

Look for DDG's Sub Pop Debut sometime early 2010. Also at the show: Music Snobbery, Amrit of Stereogum, and the NY Times. A lot of people kept saying this would be hard to get into, but I think there were so many things going on Saturday night it kept attendance down.

One more interesting note. On my way into the city to head in for the Brooklyn Vegan day party on Saturday, I walk right past a Dum Dum Girls photo show under the JMZ. Of course, I snapped a quick pic:


Tour dates after the jump…

Dum Dum Girls 2009 Tour Dates

Oct 26 BRUAR FALLS w/ Reading Rainbow & Girls At Dawn Brooklyn, New York
Oct 28 PEARL STREET NIGHTCLUB w/ King Khan & BBQ Show Northampton, Massachusetts
Oct 29 MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS w/ King Khan & BBQ Show Cambridge, Massachusetts
Oct 30 BOWERY BALLROOM w/ King Khan & BBQ Show Manhattan, New York
Oct 31 BELL HOUSE w/ King Khan & BBQ Show Brooklyn, New York
Nov 1 FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH w/ King Khan & BBQ Show Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nov 12 BELLY UP TAVERN w/ The Raveonettes & Crocodiles Solana Beach, California