Deap Vally and JJUUJJUU Close Out the Weekend at Mercury LoungeDecember 9th, 2013
Deap Vally/JJUUJJUU – Mercury Lounge – December 8, 2013
It was a double-your-pleasure kind of night at Mercury Lounge on Sunday as the crowd was treated to not one, but two guitar-and-drums duos from Los Angeles. JJUUJJUU, which is Phil Pirrone on guitar and Andrew Clinco on drums, performed first. Pironne, with his poncho, long hair and beard, looked like someone who had just returned from the Himalayas, and he brought some high-altitude rock with him. Operating from their debut three-song EP, Frst, the pair built to interesting peaks, Pirrone doing what I would call “light” live looping, layering some subtle riffs while Clinco bridged the gap between rockin’ and groovin’. These ambient mixes would settle in and then—BAM!—the roller coaster crested the top and it was all wind-in-your-face brain-and-body blasts. As these jams climaxed, the two seemed to become totally disembodied, Pirrone twisting knobs to play DJ with his guitar while Clinco hammered away on the drums in impressive fashion.
If the gig felt like a hard-core double date, then watching Pirrone sound check for headliner Deap Vally was akin to a gentlemanly holding the door open. Probably no need, though, as Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards seemed more likely to just kick down the damn door and strut right on through, no escort needed. Dressed in sparkly, revealing outfits reminiscent of ’80s Vegas showgirls, the ladies took the stage to that rock classic “Baby Got Back” and launched into what could best be described as “the heavy-duty shit.” There are a few ways to pull off a rock and roll duo: one is to do loops and build a sound like JJUUJJUU, and another is to just crank up the volume and rock the heck out. Deap Vally are decidedly in the latter category, ripping through distortion-heavy guitar rockers. “Gonna Make My Own Money” set the tone early for the packed crowd with raw rock riffs, sheer energy and sex appeal. Songs like the powder keg “Lies” or the slow-burning “Six Feet Under” would get pushed to the edge of ragged and then just die like a car running out of gas on the side of a highway. There’s an undeniable White Stripes homage in Deap Vally and there’s probably a dissertation to be written about the subversion of rock and roll clichés and gender roles here. Then again, maybe this was just what it looked like: Two women in sequins playing some monster rock. —A. Stein