*Pictures coming soon*
On Wednesday March 10, 2010 Starland Ballroom was home to a night of pop punk delectability in the form of headliners Bowling for Soup and openers, The Dollyrots. Having never seen or listened to either band in extensive detail, I made my way into the venue with both an open mind and open ears, hoping to bring a fresh perspective to both bands live performance.
Upon arrival, I sauntered into the bar area to take a seat and watch the remaining songs of the smaller openers and began to notice I was very much alone. Quite noticeably, the entire crowd was well under 21 years of age, most not even being able to drive, as I sat amidst their younger siblings and parents who waited for them in the audience. Finally it came time for the Dollyrots to take the stage. This punk rock trio, formed for fun by members Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas, took the stage with a “devil may care” attitude and punk rock sound of their forefathers. Looking much like a 2010 version of Joan Jett meets Nancy Spungen (a very befitting look as they cited Sid and Nancy as inspiration) minus the drug addiction; Kelly Ogden catapulted the band into their set, delivering catchy licks and sharp hooks that earned them my respect as a fan of the punk rock movement. Musically, the Dollyrots were able to encapsulate their influences while bringing their own fresh sound to the table. Unfortunately, despite my enjoyment of their set, I did notice that their style and influence was almost completely lost on the crowd. Having done a cover of “Brand New Key” by Melanie Safka(popularized by the Janis Joplin cover), one could almost see the crowd’s eyes glaze over. Being too young to appreciate the band and their music, I felt the group did not get the recognition they deserved that night. Though I had never heard nor seen this group before, I absolutely enjoyed their energy, lack of seriousness about themselves, but also their tightness as a musical group, firing through the set with precision and ease, demonstrating their musical finesse while maintaining the illusion of a three chord Ramones skill. Their sophomore album Because I’m Awesome was released on Jett’s own Blackheart Records and has gained the band some notoriety.
You may have already heard some music from the Dollyrots in this Kohl’s commercial.
Here’s the official video for “Brand New Key”
Upon departure the crowd began to get restless again, all that teen angst was mounting into excitement for the main act, Bowling for Soup. A group from the larger than life state of Texas, I had heard many of their singles on the radio throughout the years and have painted a mental portrait of a pop punk group with less than life altering lyrics dedicated to the pursuit of fun. In time, the television screen rolled up and the lights dimmed; the room stood silent in anticipation for just a moment when Bowling for Soup’s theme music began to blare through the house P.A. system. Within seconds I realized the band had written their own entrance music with a catchy little chorus that repeated the hook, “here comes bowling for soup!” I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my lifetime, but I must say, that would be the first time I have ever heard of a band writing a song for themselves, about themselves, just before hitting the stage. While it wasn’t necessarily pretentious, I found it a little odd. Within moments the band graces the audience with their presence, welcoming the crowd with their warmth and energy and seamlessly blasting into their set. One downside however, the band took liberal amounts of time between songs to address the assembly of kids. Often feeling more like an attempt at a comedy show than a rock concert, front man Jaret Reddick spoke in length to the congregation, making fun of himself and band members or simply creating long drawn out introductions for each upcoming track. In all my experience, I have found this tends to make a show seem long and arduous to endure. Just play the freaking music, that’s what we came for.
From the first chord to the last, the young audience moved in unison, fist pumping and making hackneyed attempts at crowd surfing. Playing singles such as “Punk Rock 101,” “My Wena,” and “High School Never Ends” one entire theme became clear to me- no matter how old the members of the band were, their lyrics never quite grew up. Stuck in the epitome of the genre ‘pop punk’ it made complete sense that a large majority of the group’s fan base isn’t even old enough to vote. What’s more is the band has the tight musicianship of seasoned professionals. Playing their instruments with skill, even throwing in a few tricks, I noticed that the group overall was incredibly strong and had the talent to take their music to the next level; they simply choose not to. Now, I’m not trying to say that this band was terrible live as their fans ate up every single second, but I feel that if the band does not grow up and evolve past their ‘pop punk roots’ utilizing all that musical talent, they simply will fade out once their fan base grows up. It doesn’t all have to be drunken potty humor and high school romances. So stop talking so much and start playing the type of music you’re capable of or the idea of longevity will simply remain as such.
By Angela Blasi