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Friday, August 1, 2008

Show Review: Bluebird Too Hot for The Ting Tings, 7/31/08

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Who ever heard of a show with a $10 cover charge where an up-and-coming UK dance-pop sensation played a mere seven songs and skedaddled after about 45 minutes?

Before last night, nobody in St. Louis seems to have. But The Ting Tings did just that.


The Ting Tings have allegedly gained popularity in crazy Japan, where cartoons give kids seizures (really) and game shows kill thousands (not really), and their ostensibly Mandarin-oriented name means ''tiny, cute penis'' (and has, accordingly, garnered them some kind of cult following.) The Ting Tings make an impressive aspiration toward the title of ''world’s cutest band,'' though they fall significantly short of the mantle still held by St. Louis' Bunnygrunt.

On Thursday night at Bluebird, little seemed to satisfy the confusion of a few hundred locals who came to see the duo work their magic, only to abandoned the stage well before 11 p.m.


Admittedly, the group has but a single ten-song LP and a handful of singles (three of which have spawned four music videos) currently in its canon. Of the seven tunes played at the Bluebird, all are featured on the album, We Started Nothing.

After a mostly quiet and thoughtful solo set by opener The Nat Attack, known familiarly as Natalie ''McGee'' Huggins (of The Bureau and formerly of The McGees), and the standard between-opener-and-headliner break wherein the bulk of the crowd moved to the cooler climes of the out-of-doors, the highly-anticipated Greater-Manchesterites took the stage, heralding their arrival with the pulsatingly appropriate ''We Walk.''

The repetitive but no less catchy ''Great DJ,'' a US Billboard Hot Dance Club hit (No. 7), followed to much crowd acclaim.

High School hipsters, middle-aged rat-tails, and 'cross-town tavern owners alike reveled in the cheerleader chants (but also, often surprising vocal range) and crinkly guitar-work of Katie White, as well as the sometimes entrancing rhythms beaten out by Jules De Martino (complete with cheap-looking red plastic sunglasses, which he had been wearing earlier in the day during both a live appearance and autograph session at Vintage Vinyl.)

White and De Martino duetted, each with an acoustic guitar, at the earlier and even shorter Vintage Vinyl show.

Back at the Bluebird, only minimal dialogue was afforded to the audience between songs and most of that either as notification of the song to be heard next, or a declaration of the excess of the heat inside the Bluebird (in earnest, I ask: are a few wall-mounted, cross-breeze-generating, industrial-size fans too much to ask of a venue booking acts as large as those booked by the Bluebird?)

''Fruit Machine'' (which is Queen’s English for ''slot machine''), the throbbing and sentimental ''Keep Your Head'' and the saccharinely breathy neo-waltz ''Traffic Light'' were next announced and played in succession.

"That's Not My Name," from the highly-anticipated Ting Tings show in St. Louis, taken on a digital still camera (hence the poor video/audio quality & cinematography). After the song is over, Katie White comments on the extreme heat (does this place seriously have no A/C?)

Clearly these people knew what they were coming to see, but the oppression of the heat and the ''packed'' status of the club generally kept them from dancing any more vigorously than would allow for a slow, collective sway. Still, the frenetic energy was in no short supply as the show’s closing numbers, and arguably The Ting Tings' two catchiest, most dance-able tunes, ''That’s Not My Name'' and ''Shut Up And Let Me Go'' were performed.

The announcement in advance of the former, an indictment of music industry apathy for a previous band that included both members of The Ting Tings, was met with perhaps the greatest anticipatory cheers of the evening. Unfortunately, the latter (A UK No. 6 and their only domestic chart hit at No. 55) rang a little too true, as the band left the stage rather abruptly, and not to return, thereafter.

The incredulous crowd was itself reluctant to leave, until a stagehand ascended and waved everyone away.

Could these Brits have turned out not to be the scrappers we took them for, and retreated because of some paltry St. Louis summer heat?

Or perhaps it is their limited discography that prevented an extended set.

The quick blast made available to St. Louis by The Ting Tings last night was more abbreviated and more sweltering most would have liked.

For better or worse, word on the street suggests that future Ting Tings appearances at venues as small (and as muggy) as the Bluebird are few and far between.

- Robert Severson

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