Playing to a packed house at the Palace Friday, Canada’s Crash Test Dummies offered a crafty, humorously morbid 75-minute show that was entertaining in its breadth of subject matter and in the genuine likability of a folky band that mixes musings of mortality and ducks (among other things) into such a listenable sound.
The surprise success story of early 1994 has to be the Dummies. The band’s second album, “God Shuffled His Feet” (Arista), has unexpectedly crashed the top 30, propelled by the radio popularity of similarly charted first single “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” an unlikely yet quite hummable pop tune. And no one seems more surprised than the band itself.
The group is fronted by Brad Roberts, a self-effacing, mellow baritone whose unique voice bears the depth of Iggy Pop and the richness of Paul McCartney.
The sextet’s smooth blend of rock, country and alternative sounds works well in the live setting. The lyrically odd, REM-ish “When I Go Out With Artists,” the rich, erotic symbolism of “Swimming in Your Ocean” and the self-destructive musings of “Afternoons & Coffeespoons”– all songs lifted from the new album — were highlights of the concert.
A folky cover of the Replacements’ “Androgynous,” silly “Superman’s Song” and show closer “At My Funeral,” each from the band’s 1991 debut, were also strong moments.
Assuming that creativity and originality still have a place in contemporary music, the Crash Test Dummies appear poised for a jump to “the next level,” a promotion this exciting and unique band deserves.
Epic Records’ October Project opened the show with an ambient, involving sound that’s tailor-made for the adult-alternative audience that has embraced the likes of Enya, Kate Bush, etc.