The Ting Tings Live
Metro - Chicago, IL on April 3, 2012: When the Ting Tings vocalist Katie White took to the Metro stage she whispered a "shhhhh" into her microphone before crouching down on the tip of the stage. Her band mate Jules de Martino strove from behind his drum kit with a guitar strapped around his neck and his effortless yet solemn chords as Katie set the mood in a somber tone until the chorus where their two voices solidified. On record, White's billowy vocals take center stage while the tumultuous glee of de Martino's rhythms stay grounded but in concert with just the two of them, they are a powerhouse of musical velocity. They're the yin to the other's yang and the implementation of their show isn't merely tremendous, it reflects incandescent merriment. When de Martino snuck behind the drum kit to take "Silence" the opening number from their latest album, he battered away against flares of strobe lights as White picked up her guitar and swung and swayed amidst the captivating lunacy of it all. The concentration of this opening number set the bar so high it felt untouchable but for the eleven numbers that followed the Ting Tings ascended to new heights in a carefully structured set that left the 1,100 in the Metro crowd not just astonished but blissful to simply witness it. Exploding onto the music scene four years ago, the UK duo sold two-million records and four-million singles but instead of straight away following it up, the Ting Tings took their time recording their second record Sounds From Nowheresville which is the sound of a band capturing their dance rhythm quintessence while forging forward to brave new waters.
After the carefully executed opener "Silence" the Ting Tings made their way through a meticulously paced set. "Great DJ" from their debut showcased so much with so little. I've seen orchestras drum up less musical urgency than the Ting Tings could with a small stage and two instruments. They followed this in quick succession with four songs from Songs From Nowheresville. Hearing them on record, they're infectious dance-rock mash-ups with a nod to the Beastie Boys ("Hang It Up") and some surging rhythm guitar ("Give It Back") which evokes the sound of the Strokes but better. The post-chorus crush of the later was all that more remarkable as we watched Katie set-up her microphone stand next to the drum kit. This was a band that isn't just capable of enticing a club but could play bigger rooms but as the set-up alluded to, they feed off one another's energy. "Guggenheim" has street beats which take a page from Paul's Boutique while "Hit Me Down Sonny" was sung by White with a slight ska twang and includes shades of reggae, big dance thumps and funk. "We Walk" built leisurely before it took off. Whereas "Fruit Machine" and "Shut Up and Let Me Go" were the aural equivalents of musical fireworks with Smith hammering a huge bass drum on the latter. Complimenting the Ting Tings was a superb opening set by MNDR- a solo spotlight for Amanda Warner who successfully engaged the crowd in an all-too-short opening electronic set that was building momentum when she had to relinquish the stage. Warner was part girl next door and part mischievous misfit. She, like the Ting Tings who followed her, has a stage presence not to be missed.
The Ting Tings second album Sounds From Nowheresville is a multifarious and daring. The rapturous anthems found on their debut are still present but are more self-possessed. Instead of taking the lead early in the race they let each of the ten songs unfold in a dramatic fashion with the two sides playing off one another. I would have liked to see them take on the second half of Nowheresville in concert (notably "Day To Day" and "Help"). The second half of the record is a distant cousin of the Rolling Stones Tattoo You where lush ballads play in contrast to the combat attack dance numbers that represent the first part of the record. My greatest fear is because there's no sure fire single people will overlook what is within the record. They're created a commendable follow-up to We Started Nothing that does more than merely have a few catchy singles but has show vast growth in their songwriting and performances.
The Ting Tings transcend musical limitations and are an absorbing and enthralling duo you can't take your eyes off of in concert. Merging the rousing exhilaration of a club DJ with stadium rock potential, the Ting Tings transport their audience which is a performer's biggest challenge. The Ting Tings entertain and convert leaving the audience in a winded daze needing to experience the release again. Katie White's penetrating voice is a presence to be reckoned with. She has a tomboy element paired with a mythical fairy component. She doesn't appear to be human on the stage so much as hailing from an alien land. She encompasses musical chops and the ability to elevate the show from her interaction with the crowd. She would slouch on the tip of the stage with penetrating glances into the fans eyes and even made her way into the crowd on more than one occasion. White slithers across the stage with the guitar around her neck…while wrapping the crowd around her finger. Jules de Martino's underpinning musical abilities may not be wholly evident on the records, but in concert he's uninhibited yet meticulous. His drumming was primal as it burst off the stage. His drumming was as full of life as White's vocals. When he wasn't shedding skin behind the kit, his spartan guitar playing served the song without ever overshadowing it. White and de Martino shifted between guitars throughout the show while having a backing track that was never once irksome highlighted on the groove heavy main set closer "Hands" which took an already spectacular show into epic territory. They provided this incredible musical build up before their instruments unleashed a torrential downpour of emotion.
The encore featured "Keep Your Head" with its Buddy Holly chords, Ric Ocasek harmonies and Go-Go's glee. "That's Not My Name" was as faultless within the walls of the Metro as it is on record. Despite their set being only 70-minutes you didn't feel as if you had been short changed with their eye-popping performance. I've seen great music performed by artists of esteemed stature within the walls of the Metro, but many of these performances were met with cross-armed fans who couldn't even be inspired to put their beer down and break a smile. The Ting Tings took a rapturous crowd and super-charged it in a concert that was nothing short of magnificent as they captured the audience's imagination better than most acts could with a three-hour set. The Ting Tings just didn't demand your attention, they held it and won adoration from their audience.
Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMusic Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at thescreendoor AT gmail DOT com and can be followed on Twitter
The Ting Tings Live
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