Skating Polly with Pinky Pinky and Starcrawler At The Echo, Friday December 15th 2017
Because of my busy all-hip-hop weekend at Rolling Loud fest, I hadn’t found the time to write about Friday night show at the Echo, headlined by the amazing Skating Polly. Two bands I am very familiar with (Pinky Pinky and Starcrawler) were opening and since I have covered them an insane amount of times – you can read about Starcrawler here, here, here, here, and here and I am not even mentioning their performances at Cal Jam and Desert Daze – I may sound like a broken record. But if you get the chance, go see them, they are on the rise, and their Black Sabbath-infused punk shows are some of the most raucous ones of the moment. Each time I see them I get the impression they get better and wilder, and on Friday night, people were really into their punk trip, transforming the place into a chaotic mosh pit as if they were attending a hardcore show. I don’t know if they will receive the same reception in London next year, but they are among the bands opening for the Foo Fighters during their ‘Concrete and Gold Tour 2018’ next summer at London stadium… may be I was right to put them on my list of LA’s most-likely-to-make-it-to-the-top-bands this year. They also have a forthcoming debut album, recorded with Ryan Adams, which is scheduled to be released on January 19th. In comparison, Pinky Pinky play like well-behaved girls, but it doesn’t mean they are not worth seeing, their music is super melodic and bold with a few retro soulful grooves, intricate guitar work and drummer Anastasia Sanchez’s powerhouse howls.
On a side note, the Echo has very recently started to reinforce a new policy that will allow photographers to take pics only during the first 3 songs of an act, and after years of complete freedom, photographers are surely not happy about it. During Starcrawler’s set, they tried to stop us after the 3-song limit, when guitarist Henri Cash decided to intervene. With his usual, rebellious, air-kicking style – he constantly jumps in the air while playing his impeccable hard rocking riffs – he managed to (gently) kick the guy who was telling us to stop. I gave him a thumb up and a big smile, he thumbed up me back in a true rock ‘n’ roll exchange…. it looks like not all rockers kick photographers after all.
Skating Polly was the only band of the night I had never seen perform before, and, as difficult it is to follow a raucous and brilliant act like Starcrawler, they were a superb and wild ride. The two girls, Peyton Bighorse and Kelli Mayo, shared the vocals and brought girlie harmonies to a raucous set, while the music sounded grungy but always upbeat thanks to Bighorse’s punk powerchords and Kurtis Mayo’s (Kelli’s brother) explosive drumming. This had all the impetuosity of youth, and, as if it had been the theme of the night, the band looked incredibly young – the two girls were respectively 14 and 9 years old when they formed the band in 2009! The show was sold out and the crowd was following their explosive riotous moments following their cool vocal harmonies with great respect and enthusiasm. There was an obviously strong riot grrrl/ Nirvana vibe, (is ‘Polly’ a reference to the Nirvana song?) but the band does not try to hide anything as they cite the famous Seattle band among their influences along with Neutral Milk Hotel, Beat Happening, Bikini Kill, Velvet Underground, Beatles, Regina Spektor, X, Kimya Dawson, and Elliott Smith.
Skating Polly gave us a set of a bipolar energy, channeled into tunes alternating between violent outbursts of rage and melancholia filled with girlie harmonies, sounding like a Girlpool low-fi folk. It was a sweet rebellion with plenty of action on stage, as they were suddenly pushing the volume with soaring and powerful harmonies.
Not everything sounded the same though, there were poppier moments – the band has baptized their sound (and guitar) ‘Ugly Pop’ – but all their songs were played with an agitated attitude, a buoyant approach, and moments of real ‘violence’, which made Peyton kick the air with her leg a few times. Most of the songs they played were from their 2016 album ‘The Big Fit’, but they also did ‘Hail Mary’ from their new EP, and ‘Queen for a Day’, a new song from their upcoming record, with lyrics from a ‘LA legend, Exene Cervenka’, as the X singer has taken the band under her protection since she produced their 2013 album ‘Lost Wonderfuls’… ‘That’s Exene, she is cool, she is in a band called X,… that will be on our new record’ said Peyton before starting the new ferocious number.
The set was filled with thunder hooks and star power, and when drummer Kurtis Mayo took the lead on bass for the grand finale exchanging instruments with his sister, it became the most raucous part of the show. Using a drumstick as if it was a bow, he and Peyton Bighorse basically trashed the place with a series of freak-out grungy psychedelia during the last song ‘Alabama Movies’.
For the encore, they came back for only one song with Starcrawler and did a heartfelt rendition of The Traveling Wilburys’ ‘Handle With Care’, (Peyton’s favorite song ever) sharing vocals with Arrow DeWilde, while Henri Cash was providing the guitar solos. The two bands have been touring together over the country and when you are watching such young bands playing loud punk rock shows with such conviction and raw energy, you have to believe that rock ‘n’ roll truly belongs to teenagers.
Nothing more than a body
Queen for a day
Perfume for Now
For the View
They are cheap
Encore with Starcrawler
Handle With Care