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A PSA for those without xx tickets: Investigate the Do

September 22, 2010 | 10:50 am

Press play on the above clip, and once one gets past a brief blare of a police horn, what follows is relatively pleasant, at times perhaps even soothing. Yet the Dø -- pronounced "dough" -- traffic in something that always seems to border on the unsettling. 

There's plenty of pain, longing and bitterness in the lyrics, and the vocals of Olivia Merilahti are attention-grabbing -- high-pitched, but not aggressively so. Yet they're not exactly completely playful either.

The song embedded above, "On My Shoulders," is a more conventional offering from the French-Finnish duo of Merilahti and mult-instrumentalist Dan Levy. The orchestral flourishes are brief, the guitar is calmly downtrodden and the atmospheric streaks and rhythmic scrapes come to weirden things up, but never overtake the song. 

But don't be fooled. The xx are definitely not the oddest act performing in Los Angeles tonight. The Dø, relatively unknown here, are big in France, and had a showcase performance at last year's French equivalent to the Grammy Awards (the Victoires de la Musique). The act performed "On My Shoulders," and then went into "Queen Dot Kong."

If you hunt down the clip, you'll see that everything was award-show-neat until the latter song hit, and then the the Dø got a little bit nuts. Think of "Queen Dot Kong" as sort of a Dø litmus test, with Merilahti sharpening things up and showing a hip-hop swagger and a rock 'n' roll howl. More often than not, though, the Dø sound as if they're crafting their electro-pop symphonies from toys. Since the band shifts styles and directions like a child wich a short attention span, it all seems to hold together on record.

Yes, it's far from the most high-profile gig tonight, but the xx/Warpaint double-threat in Hollywood is already sold out, and the Dø gig at the Bootleg Theater is a solid Plan B. Tickets are only $10, but credit the Bootleg for recognizing that the Dø's electronic-inspired whimsy could appeal to the xx crowd. For those who show up post-xx with a ticket stub, admission is just $5.

-- Todd Martens