The Dollyrots, The Pink Spiders, Bound Society, and Psycho Psycho Bring the Punk to The RadioRoom
Written by: Andy Frisk | Photography: by Kevin McGee
“This song is called ‘Mary Jane, Cut The Shit and Get Back With Spider-Man’” exclaimed David Bowers, the X-Men hat sporting lead singer/guitarist of Psycho Psycho before launching into what sounded like yet another song that furiously evoked The Pixies, but on steroids.
A few minutes later, Joe (as he’s identified on his band Bound Society’s Facebook “about” page) powered through “The UFO Song,” which he dedicated to “all those at Area 51.” Their Bad Religion come Green Day come Stiff Little Fingers riffs and rhythms reinforced the crowd’s rowdy punk reaction to the evening’s start.
By the time the The Pink Spiders, and headliners The Dollyrots hit the stage, the fully engaged crowd was in the throes of a raucously uplifting high stoked by the opening bands’ performances. In an area that is heavy with “the metal” as Jack Black would lovingly refer to it as, a thick dose of spirited, and dare I call it…joyous…punk rock, especially from the locals, really reinforced the notion that the Southeast has a healthy punk rock pulse. What’s really unique about it is just how…happy…it is.
“This type of summer tour fits perfectly into my and Luis’ schedule. It’s summer break for kids. (This allows their “traveling nanny” and family friend Sarah to accompany Kelly and her husband Luis Cabezas while on tour). And we can bring our kids with us on tour.” Kelly and Luis’ Dollytots make regular appearances on stage with their mom and dad, and River, their five-year old son, even plays along with his own special blue guitar on a song or two.
Their daughter is a bit shy yet, but revealed in a special moment that she’d like a guitar too, but it has to be purple. “Oh, now we know what kind of guitar you’ll play! We never knew that before!” laughed daddy Luis in what can only be described as one of those special family moments-that the entire crowd got to share.
It’s that kind of joy, buffered by the way harder than “pop” punk songs that fill the band’s catalogue that make a Dollyrots show so great. For a punk band, their lyrics sound more like love song lyrics than punk rock ones. They’re the kind that you might catch yourself singing to your significant other rather than blasting at the corporate types robbing America blind from The White House, but seriously, what could be more punk rock right now than telling a world so seemingly full of hate that love is real? Love is a radical thing these days and something that politics, and punk rock, could use a little more of.
“We’re political.” explained Kelly to me during our post show green room interview. “It’s just buried below the surface. If you really listen you’ll hear it. I mean Luis and I (the pair have been together since around their 8th grade days), were attending an art college in Florida together and felt like the world was ending after the 2000 election. We couldn’t believe that George W. won and we were so angry that most of our school (like so many other young people) voted for Nader, essentially costing Gore the state. We figured, ‘Well, the world’s going to end soon so do you really want to go to med school Luis? Let’s move to LA and form a band. We released a song called ‘Get Radical’ that addressed our political side a little more directly. So we’ve done that, but you really got to listen to catch it for the most part.”
When you listen closely, you find that Kelly and Luis’ songs deal more directly with the politics of love, but from a fulfilled rather than unrequited angle. “We’re still so in love! It’s amazing that we’ve made it this long, but it’s true and we’re so happy with what we are doing with our lives and that we’re doing it together.” Kelly’s declaration, while not only refreshing, was spot on, as evidenced by the duo’s interaction with each other just moments ago on stage. Seeing such a happy couple, with such happy kids, and such a great extended nanny-family on stage during a rock show, all at the same time, was almost surreal. You could feel the love reflected back from the crowd. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is unlike any in the world of punk rock. There’s plenty of music lovers who love their band, and bands who love their fans, but a band who loves each other like The Dollyrots do and invites you into their world so graciously is something that America could really use right now. Green Day had their well deserved, and much needed, moment of political relevance during the Dubya years. It’s the kind of punk rocking inclusiveness and love, of the type that The Dollyrots simply exude, that America could use a mainline shot of right now though, especially given all the hate in the air.
Songs like “I Do” (from Whiplash Splash) and “Everything” (from their most recent release Daydream Explosion) demonstrate the joyful circle pit inspiring noise and bravely honest lyrical strength The Dollyrots deal in that those who aren’t listening as closely as they should be might simply write off as trite. The songs bookended The Dollyrots set, both musically and spiritually, setting the stage and then bringing their set full circle. Their joyful spirit has had an influence on the harder edged The Pink Spiders, all members of which joined The Dollyrots on stage at some point during their set to sing, dance, and in general have a blast goofing and clowning for the crowd, and their friends in The Dollyrots.
“This is our 11th show in 11 nights, so give us some energy tonight!” pleaded The Pink Spiders’ frontman Matt Friction at the start of their set. If they were fatigued though, it didn’t show. Their punk-via-Nashville sound is just as infectious, with its harder tinged energy, as The Dollyrots’ love infused power punk is. Elevated by the crowd’s reaction to standout tracks like “Stereo Speakers,” “Black Dagger” and “Capital F” as well as some shots of an unknown alcoholic content bought for the band by a birthday girl member of the crowd, The Pink Spiders delivered one hell of a rocking set.
“I grew up on hippie music. Joni Mitchell. Jimi Hendrix. The whole lot. I loved it all. And as far as metal goes, I LOVE Lemmy.” expounded Kelly on her musical influences during our green room chat. All the love showcased in the hippie music that Kelly grew up on has crystalized in the punk rock sound, and lyrical content, of The Dollyrots. The intertwining of Kelly’s musical interests and her and Luis’ love and family form a unique listening experience that is amplified by, and best experienced, in a live setting. I hope Kelly, Luis, and even The Pink Spiders, Psycho Psycho, and Bound Society reunite next year. I will be first in line for tickets. Who says hippie bands only get to indulge in love fests of a concert?