STORY WRITTEN BY JOE BARRON
Geeks need love, too, but if they’re too shy to find it, they now have the next best thing: their own brand of music.
Like the folkies and the goths before them ― or even the Lutherans at the height of the German baroque ― nerds across the Net are bonding over songs that speak to them in their own language. Geek-folk, if the genre needs a name, is the inspiration of Angela and Aubrey Webber, a pair of sisters in their 20s who make their home in Portland, Ore. They call themselves the Doubleclicks, and, in the tradition of Joni Mitchell and Janis Ian, they sing about failed romance, alienation and rejection. The difference is they do it through lyrics about video games, superheroes and dinosaurs.
And they’re funny.
“Everybody has self-important, sad love songs,” Angela, the pair’s spokeswoman, said in a phone interview. “We were doing something that was still earnest, but instead of talking about trees or nature or clubbing, we were using World of Warcraft as a metaphor for sadness.
“We tapped into the nerd community.”
The Doubleclicks made their first appearance in Philadelphia two years ago, performing for about 40 people in a private home full of cats. They return Oct. 5, this time at Melodies Café in Ardmore, a venue that reflects their growing popularity.
“Audiences are getting a lot bigger, actually, at sort of surprising rate,” Angela said. “Young people will exclusively listen to us on YouTube. Half a dozen people will physically buy a CD through the mail.”
The folk singers of the past usually launched their careers in hole-in-the-wall coffee houses. The Doubleclicks built up their fan base at comic book conventions.
“Conventions were the first place where I saw all these people existed,” Angela said. “Live journal communities and now Tumblr is where you go to find these people between conventions … What I really love about geek places is you feel safe. You can love what you want to love and not feel that you need to hide it.”
The Webber sisters grew up in a geek household and were indoctrinated in the ways of nerd-dom at a very early age. Their father enjoyed singing the Smothers Brothers’ oddball version of “Streets of Laredo,” which has found its way into the Doubleclicks’ act, along with a variant of Tom and Dick’s sibling-rivalry patter. They also count Weird Al Yankovic and the legendary Tom Lehrer among their heroes.
“We love Jonathan Coulton, who is also sincere,” Angela said. “I think not all of our songs are funny. Not all of our songs are nerdy.”
Yet it’s the nerdy ones stick in the mind, and they show how, in the true geek spirit, the Doubleclicks can get worked up about things that most nine-to-five grown-ups wouldn’t notice. Angela was so bothered by the way her beloved dinosaurs were portrayed in the “Jurassic Park” movies, for example, that she wrote a song about it, which, under the surface, conveys a message to young girls about body image and self-acceptance.
In the movies, the dinosaurs known as velociraptors are depicted as tall, slender, and smooth-skinned ― the supermodels of the Age of Reptiles.
“In real life, velociraptors were like two or three feet tall and had feathers,” Angela said. “It’s an important distinction people need to know about.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Melodies Café, 2 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore.
When: Sunday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m.