Concert Review: Skating Polly, Starcrawler, and Quinn the Brain
Written by German Romaldo on January 24, 2018
This show. Oh boy, I could not stop thinking about this show before and after. It was my most anticipated show of the year by far. It might even be my favorite show of the year (currently in
competition with Twin Peaks at the Secret Group). I came for Starcrawler, stayed for Skating Polly, and was impressed by Quinn the Brain. Now, you might think that hype is clouding my judgment but when I tell you that Starcrawler is not only the best new band around but one of the greatest group of performers this decade and onward, my judgment could not be any clearer.
But first off, I must talk about the bright start that was the
local band, Quinn the Brain. Props to Walter’s that always provides a helping hand to local bands, and as a result, it allows these local bands to spread out into new territories and build a foundation of experience that lets them grow. Quinn the Brain is one of those bands. Extremely fresh, the band officially launched September 21 of this year, it consists of Arta Salehi, Billy Kimmel, and Jacob Detiveaux. Throughout their performance, I could not resist the feeling to make comparisons to the alternative rock bands of yore. The vocals, riffs, and basslines were callbacks to the early days of grunge and riot grrl, and I commend their performance and strongly believe that with more experience the band will rise to new heights.
Starcrawler is currently in my top three favorite bands, and I will attempt to explain my reasoning for this high placement for a relatively new band with my review of their performance on a Sunday evening. Starcrawler hails from Los Angeles and is made up of singer Arrow de Wilde, guitarist Henri Cash, drummer Austin Smith, and bassist Tim Franco all of which are either 20 or under. They have been around for a year and a half now, but they made major noise when Elton John played
their song, at the time their only single, “Ants” on his radio show. Their Sunday performance was intensely energetic, dangerously loud, and amazingly messy from start to finish. Henri’s guitar play was stunning and absolutely master-class as he completely tore the stage apart. Arrow’s vocals were deep and haunting as she frantically looked around while spewing blood and water from her mouth as if she were an escaped patient from Bedlam. Tim and Austin were calmer and collected, but nonetheless, their structure and wonderful playing of their respective instruments kept the band from going off the deep end. Starcrawler takes you back to a time in music where Ozzy Osbourne ate bats, Alice Cooper scared crowds, and Iggy Pop danced for his life.
Last but absolutely not least, Skating Polly took center stage at Walter’s. From Oklahoma, the band formed in 2009 when step-sisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse were merely 14 and 9 respectively. Since then, they have added brother Kurtis Mayo and have released around five albums. These veterans were almost pure riot grrl from start to finish. Throughout their performance, I could not resist the feeling to make comparisons to the punk band, Babes in Toyland. Kelli’s vocals were almost chillingly reminiscent of Kat Bjelland’s as she magnificently played on her three-stringed bass. Peyton defined what is to be a guitarist as she
carried the songs with rhythmic precision through dance-enticing punk-pop riffs, and her softer vocals complemented Kelli’s wonderfully. Kurtis switched with Peyton as they proceeded to demonstrate their multi-instrumental skill. Kurtis got creative with a drumstick towards the end of the set as he began to strum and bash the guitar with it to create cacophonous noise to commence the close of a night.
At the end, Skating Polly and Starcrawler came together to form their supergroup Star Polly (or was it Crawly Polly?) to finish off the night with an extravagant cover as Skating Polly is oft to do. When it was all said and done, I could not help but smile at the pure fun and enjoyment the two bands had created.
It was difficult to leave that show without pondering on the thought that what I witnessed was only the beginning of an amazing journey each band has taken on. With certainty, these faces are the faces of a new generation of rock music. A generation of excitement and pure fun, and if that is the case, we have one great ride ahead of us.