When I was younger, playing in a band and going to all ages punk and ska shows every other night, the most common – if not annoying – time-filler was the myriad of high school and college-aged bands that would immaturely show up thoroughly unprepared to play. Decked out in traditional Johnny Rotten garb, they’d sport patches and stickers of bands that conceivably influenced their music – Misfits, NOFX, the Buzzcocks, Black Flag – and other bands that probably didn’t (Ten Foot Pole?). Cool as they looked, these kids rarely even had the physical dexterity to keep a rhythm going for one minute, much less for the duration of an entire song.
This may be the reason I’m so enthralled by local newcomers the Lollies, a band whose appearance is vaguely akin to the type of overly eager punk acts I’ve endured countless times, but whose live prowess stands up next to even the legendary groups those bands wanted so badly to be. At Hey! Café on June 24, the story was no different, as they – along with Brasky (making their live debut) – provided local support for Asian Man Records’ West Chester, PA pop punk act Spraynard.
The Lollies, modestly lacking the green and pink hair dye from their phenomenal Block Party performance, were mostly business tonight in the dim back room of Hey! Cafe, completing a bona fide full-song sound check before tearing into a torrent of lightning fast punk and flawless vocal harmonies. Singers and Guitarists Brian Pretus and Zach Quinn volleyed complex riffs back and forth while trading lead vocal duties in the spirit of some of the best multi-guitar punk bands. Meanwhile, the drumming of newbie Joey Mercer proved not to be the live weakness (as is usually the concern when replacing band members) but the most impressive facet of the band, as he not only kept up with the Lollies’ breakneck shifts from pop punk to old school punk to occasional flirtations with metal, but managed to largely set the pace for the sweaty, sardine-packed mosh pit of concert regulars.
Years ago, the idea of getting a mind blowing concert experience at a coffee house was a rarity; and to see such a high-quality local punk show was all but a pipe dream. Tonight’s event, however, was possibly a microcosm of the strong New Orleans punk movement trudging along with incredibly talented people behind it: to have a local record label like Community Records, home to an act like the Lollies, put on a show for a touring band from Asian Man Records is night and day compared to some of the garbage I sifted through as a kid.
photo courtesy of Julia Pretus