All words: Colin Wilhelm
All photos: Mike Danko
Katie White began the Ting Tings extremely loud and incredibly fast set by shushing the crowd, as if the Ting Tings were about to embark into a recital instead of on a noise expedition. “Shhhhhhhhhh, shhhhhhhh,” she hissed in darkness, more kindergarten teacher than rockstar. Unless you live under freight train tracks that was certainly the only pa rt of the show someone could have slept through.
That hushed introduction provided some of the only downtime during which the audience could gather their breath comfortably. Jules De Martino bounced from instrument to instrument, often during songs, an easily bored playboy hopping from woman to soon-to-be-jilted woman. Martino multi-tasked early and often, filling the void to create a large sound despite only two people occupying stage (most of the time). The British pop duo used most everything at their disposal, including a massive bass drum specially shipped from the U.K. “The most underrated instrument is the handclap,” White said to convince audience members to lend their palms to “Frugal Geniuses”. I have yet to see or hear a truly compelling handclap solo, but most people started clapping along to the beat so whatever, mission accomplished. Eventually the Ting Tings turned the main floor of the 9:30 Club into a combination of pure bass and heat. The crowd moved like jelly tapped to the beat.
Of course they played their two female-with-an-attitude hits, “Come on and Let Me Go” and “That’s Not My Name”, scattered amongst samples from the rest of their catalogue (some of which has not been terribly well-received by critics). Like seemingly everyone involved in pop music these days they incorporated some electronica/techno/dance/insert your acceptable nomenclature du jour into some songs, actually employing a couple of effective builds towards the end of their forty-five minute to an hour long show. When most of your still young catalogue consists primarily of three-four minute songs then brevity becomes your thing. Many 9:30 Club patrons appeared ready to keep the party going though, as they stuck around to dance to a soundtrack of “Regulators” and other late-90s hits. Perhaps they danced late into the night, as the Ting Tings’ set ended around 10:45.
Opener MNDR seemed nostalgic for a different era: the early 80s, especially the shit parts. A drunk woman singing karaoke over some of the worst pop the 80s had to offer could have easily supplanted her and few would have known the difference. But MDNA…I mean MNDR seems to have successfully made a career out of singing poorly over pre-recorded, uncreative drum and bass beats, so she’s got that going for her, which is nice.