Talk about a yin-and-yang night. Or yin-and-yuck might be better.
In one corner of Minneapolis, we had young Los Angeles hip-hop crew the Odd Future at First Avenue, the most notorious group in pop music right now, and about as machismo and cavemanny as any group since 2 Live Crew. Across the river at the Turf Club in St. Paul, there was another L.A.-based act, the Dum Dum Girls, a band of four women playing smart, guitar-driven pop-punk who (unlike Odd Future) didn’t call audience members b***hes between every song or make fun of my mom.
Here’s a sampling of some of the other between-song banter last night from Odd Future, which is led by this year’s best new artist winner at the MTV Video Music Awards, rapper and producer Tyler, the Creator (who proved a dudly personality on stage): 1) “My [rhymes with ‘wok’] hurts.” 2) “Who wants some water? Then throw that [rhymes with ‘wussy’] on stage.” 3) “I won’t smoke any of that [rhymes with ‘spit’] weed. But I’ll smoke your b***h, though.” 4) To a specific audience member: “I hate this [rhymes with ‘jigga’] right here. What’s your name? I [rhymes with ‘plucking’] hate you, Melvin.” 5) To the whole crowd: “Everybody put your hands up. ... If your hands are up, you like d**k!”
You get the picture. And I fully get the appeal of angsty teenage boys wanting to joke around, blow off steam and lift up a middle finger to the world in a concert, which seemed to be the main drive of the sold-out, 70-minute set [it didn’t appear sold out, since the young crowd was extra-packed onto the dance floor]. Where punk and metal and even rap/rock groups point their fingers at mom and dad or politicians or conservative society or The Man, the Odd Future seems to be telling fans to point all their aggression at girls or each other. No surprise mosh pits broke out repeatedly in the set, especially during the strobe-lit “B***, Suck D**k” -- yep, that's the title -- and in the show closer “Radicals,” wherein the crowd chanted “Kill people, burn sh**, f*** school.” It really doesn’t get any dumber than this.
Musically, I hate to admit, the Odd Future did show some cleverness. The slow, throbbing, DJ Skrew-style murkiness of songs such as “Orange Juice” proved oddly hypnotic, while more hyper, firebranded numbers such as “Sandwiches” were littered with sick (the good kind of sick) rhyming skills. All the impressive parts of the show just made the overflow of idiocy extra maddening, though. I urge every kid who attended last night to check out one of the seven upcoming First Ave/Entry shows by Doomtree, who can be equally bratty and cocky and hilarious but are about a 100 on the intelligence meter compared to Odd Future’s 1.3 (I give them the .3 for making fun of the kid who threw his keys onto the stage; even they recognized the stupidity in that).
Turns out, the Turf Club gig was a sort of homecoming for lead Dum Dum Girl Kristen “Dee Dee” Gundred, who told the three-quarters-full crowd she had been coming to the Twin Cities since she was about 13 (word is her dad lives here). That was about it for the conversations, though. Dressed all in black with bangs over their heavily eyelinered eyes and low stage lights, the Girls kept a sort of Ramones-ian mystique and pace as they tore through about 15 songs in just over an hour.
Their infectious new single, “Bedroom Eyes,” came early in the set, while the slow, melodic swayer “Hold Your Hand” and the girl-group-poppy “Tears on My Pillow” were highlights later on. The band sounded a bit shaky and unseasoned compared to the polished sheen of the new Sub Pop album, “Only in Dreams” (the opposite could be said of openers Crocodiles, whose ‘80s guitar-whirl and ‘60s garage-band psychedelica was spotlessly powerful). However, you don’t get to hear the Smiths cover “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” on the record, which pushed the show into magical terrain.