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SXSW Concert Review: The Dollyrots and Girl In A Comma

The Dollyrots put off a vibe that just yells, “Screw playing perfectly...let's rock!”
By Ben Rhudy Mar 17, 2007, 21:49 GMT

After an entire week of hearing earnest, melodic Brit-pop, twangy country rock and solo acoustic acts, it was finally time to get a sampling of the alternative acts rolling through South By Southwest (SXSW). My first musical love will always be punk rock, as it's raw, dirty, honest style has always appealed to me, and so it was good to be able to get back to my roots.

In order to accomplish my goal, I made my way down a crowded 6th street, filled with pirates, men wearing pickle suits and as many shades of hair color as there are types of Skittles. Strolling up to Emo's, the premiere punk-rock venue in Austin, several extremely long lines were beginning to form around the back entrance. The posted flyers told me that tonight would be the big Blackheart Records showcase featuring well-known punk bands The Dollyrots, Girl In A Coma and the Vacancies.

Blackheart Records was founded by legendary rocker Joan Jett, and is set up as a sort of punk rock talent farm that harvests up and coming bands and places them in the spotlight for the general public to gobble up. The label recently brought on the L.A. Trio The Dollyrots, made up of bassist and lead singer Kelly Ogden, guitarist Luis Cabezas and drummer Chris Black. The Dollyrots' infectious melodies, lyrics and music take a bit of the seriousness out of the punk rock world, but add a lot of fun and attitude to make up for it.

The first band to pound the black, carpet lined stage was San Antonio natives Girl In A Coma. The all-girl squad of three was quiet as they walked onto the stage, smiling at the crowd that was beginning to form. Emo's is set up in an unusual way. There isn't technically any backstage area, only a door to the side of the stage leading into a small closet sized room where bands prepare for shows. This creates a situation where the artists, even big name acts, are usually out in the crowd beforehand out of necessity.

Girl In A Coma stood in the crowd visiting beforehand, mingling with the locals, until it was time to get up on stage and melt faces. And melt faces they did. Contrasting their short stature, Girl In A Coma brought a super-sized amount of irreverent and gutsy punk rock that pleased the crowd.

People were still filing into the venue when 8:00 pm rolled around, and as the girls kicked it into high gear, Ms. Jett herself appeared before a cheering audience to introduce the group.

Nina Diaz can sing, and it's an amazing voice that climbs out her. Her wild-eyed antics and deep, husky cries were the highlight of the show. All-around, in the short amount of time that the band had to get the crowd fired up, they did just that. When they're album hits this month, you can bet I'll be rushing out to any nearby record store to pick it up.

The pop-punk frenzy continued on into the evening with a short set from the newest Blackheart Records band, The Dollyrots. My previous interview with Kelly O. had me itching to find out how The Dollyrots sounded live, and after picking up “Because I'm Awesome” at Waterloo, the wait became almost unbearable.

What set The Dollyrots apart from so many other well-known punk acts that I've seen, is that their desire to have a blast on stage overshadows the simplicity of their songs. Kelly, Luis and Chris put off a vibe that just yells, “Screw playing perfectly...let's rock!” The crowd definitely picked up on this, and all I could see behind me was a mass of bobbing heads and thrusting fists as the set went on.

At the end of the set, as The Dollyrots pounded out the anthem “Because I'm Awesome”, the title track from their recently released album of the same name, the energy level of the room increased ten-fold. As the last note shot out of the band's equipment, Black leaped over his drums and tackled Cabezas to the ground. Getting in on the fun, Kelly dog-piled on top of her band mates and all three began furiously wiggling around. It was a fitting end to a set filled with infectious pop punk.

I came away that night with a better understanding of why Blackheart Records was created. The label really seems to want to put the fun back into punk rock, where it should be. If it means that I get to see more bands like Girl In A Coma and The Dollyrots, then I agree wholeheartedly.

‘Because I’m Awesome’ is now available at Amazon. Visit the music database for more information and a link to M&C’s review of the album. Check back with M&C for more coverage of SXSW – including a concert review of Redman. Visit M&C's music features section for our exclusive interview with Kelly O. of The Dollyrots, Aqualung, and Ari Hest. Visit M&C's music reviews section for our exclusive SXSW concert reviews of Ari Hest, Joe Purdy, White Rabbits, Star Deaths and White Dwarfs, and Nicole Atkins.