LIVE REVIEW: Skating Polly in Cambridge, MA (07.02.23)
(photo credit: Megan Magdalena)
Going to a Sunday night show after a long work week used to be my favorite respite after a long work week. One is always handpicked for the ultimate vibes to end a long rock and roll week. The no longer with us Great Scott in Allston was the perfect answer to this, and many a new favorite band was gained that way. But the Sunday show has remained strong in Boston, primarily as now every venue in this beautiful city seems to be booked every night. A recent example was a very well-attended Skating Polly headliner at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge. The show was a bill studded with strong Female and LGBT presenting artists, and Skating Polly capped off the night in a blur of strumming, noise, and riot-girl vocals.
Opening their set with Hickey King, the band quickly set the tone for the wall of noise that was about to envelope the room. Skating Polly presented a wall of noise in a very minimally trying way, but only in a good way. Reminiscent of performances by bands like the UK’s Let’s Eat Grandma, the band was a cool as-ice way to wrap up the night of performances. It was a performance for true music lovers. Some of the most memorable shows over the years I’ve covered music have always come from those who are there to focus on the music—the sets where the band just scoots through a wealth of their material to the crowds’ glee. Not to disavow the shows I’ve seen where the band has made eight songs flow over ninety-minute sets.
But Skating Polly’s performance that night focused on the music, and the crowd wasn’t hating it, but loving it. The band broke out some “piano songs,” which, according to the band, was the first time in seven years they had brought that musical component to their sets. These slowed-down moments were just as gorgeous as the rapid-fire tunes that prefaced them, including a more recent track for the band, Someone Like A Friend, off the recently released album, “Chaos Country Line” (released June 23rd via El Camino). This one includes the particularly heartbreaking lyric, “Maybe you could kiss me like you wish you could break all my bones.” This track quickly brought the nineties grunge princess vibes for which Alanis Morissette became a household name. Quickly followed by Tiger At the Drugstore, the band swooned through a smattering of clear favorites for the crowd. Including a massive reaction to Nothing More Than A Body, it’s clear the reach Skating Polly has had on their fans.
Their set was a stunning way to spend a Sunday. While the band has found themselves in Boston before, most recently opening for THICK at Brighton Music Hall, this time was the band’s long-awaited first headliner in Cambridge. And it was well worth the wait for those in attendance!