Worn out and exhausted from an overwhelmingly busy weekend, I felt as if concrete bricks had been chained to both legs before walking into Sunday night's show at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge. I was desperately dragging one pathetic foot in front of the other, fighting my own body weight in an attempt to get to the front of the stage. I had been looking forward to the Mommy and Daddy show all week and despite feeling tired, I was glad to return to one of Chicago’s best venues for live music.
In recent years it would seem that the record industry has become increasingly more eager to embrace the arrival of yet another two-piece band, perhaps a kickback from the mainstream success of The White Stripes. But despite all the recent hype, there is something slightly romantic about the simplicity involved in a band with just two members. Having been a part of several go-no-where rock groups, I have witnessed the uncanny difference between the intimacies of a two-piece and the ambiguous nature of larger musical orientations. The lack of manpower doesn’t simply affect live performance capabilities, but also radically changes the social dynamics of a band. The level of dependency each band mate has to one another alters the group’s persona and demands that a duo compliment each other in a charismatic formulation. This added layer of complication can often provide audience members with a new degree of intrigue as band mates essentially groom one another through subtle communication, often taking the form an inside joke shared with the audience.
Mommy and Daddy provide an interesting approach to the two-piece rock group by exiling its two most popular instruments, both the guitar and drums. Instead, the dynamic duo switch off on bass and synth while sharing the responsibility for vocal talent. The fuzzy sound of bass on over-drive differs greatly in Mommy and Daddy from that of the crunchy bass licks popularized by Jesse Keeler of recent Death From Above 1979 fame. Mommy and Daddy’s choice to adopt the bass as a primary instrument, as opposed to guitar, has left the burden of creating songs with catch to vocal contributions. However, both members, Edmond Hallas and Vivian Sarratt, have excellent stage voices that assist in packaging the group as something special. Whether it’s Sarratt’s snotty high pitched punk rock yelps (reminiscent of the X Ray Spex front Poly Styrene), or Hallas’s aggressive, radio ready choruses, both successfully add an essential layer to the music.
The group is very entertaining and despite having been so tired, I couldn’t help but move my weary feet. Both members stay active on stage and really channel their energy through the music. The highlight of the night was a series of unforgettable dance moves orchestrated by Hallas during his turn as front man. I had never seen anything like it before and the reaction was well received by the crowd. It was like he was doing the funky chicken, bowing each leg out in an awkward fashion to the sound of the beat. Sarratt too had a way with the crowd, arousing something almost erotic with her aggressive attitude on bass. Both reminded me of characters out of a John Waters or Jim Jarmisch film and their animated behavior on stage gave the music a new level of depth. The band reminds me of Joan Jett meets Motley Crue meets Le Tigre meets Iggy pop meets some glue sniffer in the park holding a Roland synthesizer. Mommy and Daddy are old school rockers who haven’t lost sight of the future, and their hand clapping, foot stomping electro-punk anthems are sure to get you shaking your ass. This band is up and coming, and I can’t wait to see these characters in a video. I was lucky to have witnessed them in Chicago on a sleepy Sunday night, because their next show in town is sure to be a riot.