Mondoween feat. Allo Darlin’
Live at the Rock Shop
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Mondo is a monthly indie-pop dance party where everyone in attendance looks like they belong on a Belle & Sebastian album cover. For the Halloween edition on Saturday, the crowd has turned into a gathering of flappers, a few Lady Gagas, and an assortment of characters for which pigtails are mandatory. It’s a match made in heaven for London-based, certified CMJ buzz band Allo Darlin’ and their twee-bent pop. Take, for example, a sampling of lyrics from their self-titled debut: “Though I’ve got no money to burn, I’m going to burn what I’ve got.” “In the movie of our lives, would Woody Allen write the screenplay?” “All the pretty people we meet eat organic and buy green electricity.” These come amid references to Weezer, The Go-Betweens and Graceland, so it’s safe to say that tonight, in the depths of Park Slope, they’re playing to their kind of people.
As if there’s any question, singer Elizabeth Morris jumps up and down like an 8-year-old playing hopscotch. She punches the air during “Kiss Your Lips,” right before it goes, “You swung your feet and sang my favorite Weezer song, so I sang along,” cuing the chorus to “El Scorcho.” When Gary Olson of The Ladybug Transistor lends a hand on vocals without breaking from his lifeguard disguise (he keeps blowing his whistle and motioning for people to get out of the water), she can’t stop cracking up. It’s tempting to use the word “adorable” to describe the scene, but throughout the show she leans over her teeny tiny (it looks unusually small) ukulele, and really wails on it. She sweats a lot. She giggles, and then she cusses. It’s like Jenny Lewis and Camera Obscura got together to make a mostly happy album.
The kitty cat drummer isn’t really messing around, either. That dude’s all rock ‘n’ roll, supported by a shy and steady dinosaur on guitar and Teen Wolf on bass. Teen Wolf rarely stops bobbing up and down, which, apparently, causes lots of swooning. Given the occasion, the band keeps the album’s steel guitars at bay and weeds out most of their slow songs, save for “Let’s Go Swimming” and a solo rendition of “Tallulah” in the encore. Only occasionally do Morris’ vocals really dig as deep as they do recorded, but a line like, “You convinced I’m pretty when I’m not,” is still heartbreaking, even when you are dressed like a bumblebee (or at least in a yellow Shrag t-shirt, striped legwarmers and an antenna headband). Yeah, her vocals spend a lot of time in a high, baby-voiced register — with her native Australian accent laid on especially thick, the cover of “Walk Like an Egyptian” becomes“Walk Like an Egyptieeeeen” — but she has no hesitation shouting “Baby is a punk rock girl!” during “Henry Rollins Don’t Dance.” All in all, the whole thing’s a lovefest: everything the indie-pop loving crowd could possibly want from a band playing an indie-pop dance party the night before Halloween.