The Dollyrots With Honeychain, The Two Tens, The Darts At The Hi Hat, Friday March 23rd2018
The Ramones have left a deep groove in the punk world, no band will ever match their cool cartoon characters and their pop punk anthems, but their fun energy seemed to float over the awesome lineup of bands which played at the Hi Hat on Friday night. Four bands for a night always look a bit too much to me, but there was a unity in their various brands of pop punk that immediately made sense.
Honeychain was the expression of power pop with a punk side that went crescendo during the set. Nobody should have been fooled by front-woman Hillary Burton’s serious look (even her name sounds like a business woman’s name) as her stage presence rapidly took control of their poppy songs with charisma and fast accelerations. They certainly had well crafted pop songs, with a constant progression in the aggressiveness while keeping real heartfelt harmonies, but when sudden accelerations took over their set, it was all about head bobbing and hooky songs going wild inside a controlled chaos. Last year, Honeychain released ‘Crushed’, an album produced by Kim Shattuck (the Muffs, Pixies, whereas Hillary also plays in Kim’s other project, The Pandoras) and this family affair could be heard throughout their catchy garage-punk collection of songs, eventually getting messy with love (the title of one of the tunes) but always directing the game with swagger and neatness.
What was not to like about the Two Tens, they sort of sounded like the Ramones with the White Stripes lineup. They had an overflowing energy with Adam Bones blasting a full sound on guitar and the energy of an entire rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse, and Rikki Styxx beating her drums as if there was no tomorrow. There were a fun duo, boosting the mood of the room with their shredding rock numbers and pushing the volume higher at each song. Adam, with his long thin legs kept his jump-y Joey Ramone attitude all set long, while Rikki was backing him up on vocals and did start up all their songs with a classic ‘1, 2, 3!’ They barely stopped between the songs, rushing through the set like a wild fire and unleashing the raw power of garage rock with plenty of distortion and playfulness. Their last song was called ‘Sweet as Pie’ from their album ‘Volume’ and yes it spoke volume about the sweetness of their punk anthems.
The all-girl group the Darts was a change of tone, more than a change of pace. The crazy energy was still very much there, but the power pop had left the building to make room for a creepy boogie-ing organ played by frontgirl Nicole Laurenne, who sexually assaulted her instrument several times (or vice-versa), rolling on stage with the organ fallen on her. They sure gave me a strong Death Valley Girls vibe crossed with a motorcycle female gang, and they violently trashed the place proving that estrogen can be as badass as testosterone. Michelle Balderrama looked absolutely dangerous with her mariachi pants, holding her guitar with the neck parallel to her body, while Christina Nunez was adding deep bass lines, and Rikki Styxx was back behind the drums. But their set was all about this fuzzed-out garage rock sound, with this central abused-organ graveyard party, carrying some reminiscence of the Cramps’ spooky punk sound and the Stooges’ raw chaos, all brought to you by a quartet of dirty garage goddesses.
The Dollyrots were almost at the end of their Rah Rah Radical tour, as they had been touring since the beginning of March told us bassist Kelly Ogden, who was very vocal about the challenge to reconcile life on tour with parenthood. However, their Ramone-y energy was intact, guitarist Luis Cabezas was jumping non-stop during a 15-song set, Kelly was strumming her bass with a bottomless enthusiasm and the couple did appear more and more friendly as they were playing their series of pure fun sing-alongs. There was a great sweetness in each song, almost a childish unrestrained energy with explosive outbursts and Kelly’s youthful vocals, after all, this is a band which unapologetically admits to regard Dee Dee Ramone, Kim Deal, Exene Cervenka, Kathleen Hannah, Rodney Bingenheimer, or Eddie Cochran as personal heroes and it showed all set long. The entire hour was filled with their smile-triggering music and songs which could have been remixes of the Beatles crossed with the Clash, played louder and faster, with the sugary side of a Saturday morning kid cartoon.
It really had the vibe of a family show, with a lot of cute talking about kids and life, but this was not surprising as the couple is used to this amount of intimacy, they have even shared the journey of their last album ‘Whiplash Splash’ and their pregnancy on their website, Meanwhile all the bands were acting like a big family: Rikki Styxx, who often drums for the Dollyrots, was this time replaced by another guy behind the drums, as she had already played for two sets, but this didn’t prevent her to jump on stage to dance, soon followed by the members of the Darts and the tour nanny.
The entire time The Dollyrots looked and sounded very happy, especially talkative Kelly, she was happy to be there, happy to be playing music and she definitively looked adorable. And when I read that these two have known each other since 8th grades, have two kids together and still find all this energy to tour and write songs together after 6 albums, I wondered how such a band could even exist… But this is a wonderful thing for all their fans’ great pleasure.
Pack of Smokes
Brand New Key
Come And Get it
California Beach Boy
Twist Me to the Left
City of Angels
My Best Friend’s Hot
Dance Like a Maniac
Ruby Soho (Rancid cover)
Because I’m Awesome