On paper, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are difficult to button down. The unusual moniker coupled with the cheesy portrait picture on the cover of their debut album, ‘It’s a Corporate World’, suggests these guys could be anything from diehard NASCAR fans (which, as it turns out, they’re not) to bespectacled arty hipsters with a penchant for making synth tunes about how financial greed is sucking the life and soul out of humanity.
But that’s the problem with judging books (or in this case, albums) by the cover, because when you see the Detroit duo live, what you actually get is a pair of talented songwriters performing a mishmash of chirpy melodies and catchy pop songs with a splattering of electro beats, while still refusing to take themselves too seriously. Onstage at XOYO dressed like a cross between ventriloquist dummies and cinema ushers, Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein allowed their lilting opener ‘Morning Thought’ make up the minds of those in the audience who hadn’t yet decided who exactly these guys were; a pair of great musicians touting some fantastic hook-laden songs.
Of course a little onstage fun with costumes (especially when they are as epic as the colorful ensembles the boys donned for ‘Nothing But Our Love’) and a few fans in the car racing circuit courtesy of the real Dale Earnhardt Jr never hurts either. But by the end of this gig if you are still trying to classify Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. under any heading you’re probably trying too hard, because in this case, the music really does speak for itself.