Review: The Dollyrots & Don’t Panic – Factory 251, Manchester

I’m not sure why it always ends up being a holiday when I’m reviewing a gig, but I feel like Valentine’s Day is the appropriate time to see three pop-punk artists all together, in one of the most energetic evenings I’ve ever had watching musicians.

There’s not a long wait before Royals come on stage (not The Royals, as Kelly from The Dollyrots later gets told off for saying) and while I’ve heard of them briefly, I haven’t really looked into them much, which meant they were a very pleasant surprise for me. They were a great fit as support, high energy, and doing a good job of keeping the crowd engaged with some great modern pop-punk bangers. They interacted well on stage too and played off of each other in a way that felt fun, like you were getting a real glimpse of a group of friends that just happened to be playing live in front of you.

Don’t Panic were our co-headliners and first of the two to go up, for what was the first-ever gig together in the UK. And it was a hell of a good one. Again, it really felt like a group of friends hanging out on stage that we were given the generous gift of being privy to, but they involved the audience so well that it was hard not to really like all of them by the end of the set, even if the conversation ends up on dogging. Their music is great, upbeat, and carrying on the same energy of the evening, as good live as their studio recordings, despite the technical difficulties throughout the show. I’m already hoping for them to come back to the UK again, and their tour hasn’t even finished yet.

Last in the evening, but not too late, were The Dollyrots, a band that already ranks highly in my own listening habits. The choice of entrance music as the Looney Tunes theme song is already so on brand that it’s hard not to feel anticipation for the band immediately, and though we’re back to technical difficulties to the point where bassist/vocalist Kelly’s microphone is only working 20% of the time, she has such a killer voice that her belting is audible anyway. The show was totally chaotic, from the microphone not working to guitarist/vocalist Luis almost falling off a speaker at one point, and then to the inclusion of their kids’ comedy set. All-new material and excellent comedic timing provided a little bit of a break from the upbeat push of the music before the final push.

We got a good few anecdotes out of them during the technical downtime – including their sharing of some background vocals with Andrew W.K., but the fantastic sound of them is enough to drown out any of the problems and have you agreeing whole-heartedly with the chanting choruses where they describe themselves as awesome. It was a night well worth an unreliable train trip into Manchester, and the small size of the venue made it feel intimate – that, and it made them loud enough to nearly burst the eardrums in proper pop-punk fashion.

The last night of the tour falls on February 21st in London at the New Cross Inn. More information here.

Review – El Vipond

All live images credit Rawdon James via Rage PR

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