ABSOLUTELY FAB: The Ting Tings, JBs, Last Night [Photos by JONATHAN VALANIA]
BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE INQUIRER There was a time when radio, MTV, Rolling Stone and Beavis and Butthead were the kingmakers of tomorrow’s hitmakers. These days, of course, it is the blogs, MySpace buzz and the ubiquitous iPod TV ad that are the new deciders. Case in point: The Ting Tings, a stylish duo from the UK, and their sassy, big-bottomed punk-funk hit “Shut Up And Let Me Go”, currently wiggling in throbbing primary color perpetuity on a cable station near you. Even before the iPod ad put them over, The Tings Tings were the new hot thing for people who like ‘new hot things,’ and for good reason: They are a stone cold gas, trading in a kicky-cool, post-everything hybrid of punk, dance, pop and rap combined with an innate sexiness, impeccable style and an irrefutable ‘get down’ imperative.
The curiously named Ting Tings are fronted by a blonde-wigged glamazon with a CBGBs-redux wardrobe and a demonstrable willingness to fight for her right to party, who could pass for — depending on how much you squint — either the daughter of Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous or Deborah Harry circa “Rapture.” She is known by many names, precious few of them accurate. For instance, they call her ‘hell’. They call her ‘Stacey”, they call her ‘Jane’. That’s not her name — Katie White is her name. They also call her ‘quiet girl’, or so she says, but believe you me, she was a riot Wednesday night at way-sold-out Johnny Brendas where the Ting Tings put on a short, sharp and electrifying set that put the lie to the post-modern self-deprecation implicit in the title of the band’s debut album, We Started Nothing. If nothing else, the Tings Tings started a good time.
The second half of the Ting Tings duality is drummer/guitarist/singer Jules De Martino, usually seen wearing a hoodie and aviator shades that hide his small, squinty eyes and amplify his matinee idol cheek bones. Last night he was a perpetual motion machine, an always-in-the-pocket groovemeister and impressive multi-tasker — at several points he played guitar and sang while simultaneously keeping time on the kick drum and hi-hat, a display of one-man band aplomb not seen since Hasil Adkins. And during the encore, a ripping spin through the feral funk of “We Started Nothing”, De Martino just plain beat the drums like he wanted them dead. But for the bulk of the night, the Ting Tings were all slow-burn cool, finally boiling over on an ecstatic rendition of the altogether sublime “That’s Not My Name” and a put-your-hands-in-the-air run through “Great DJ”, writ anthemic by White’s chugging, nicked-from-Eddie-Money guitar line. Hot fun in the city, indeed.