Last night, most of Deep Ellum was preoccupied with the Oaktopia Festival. Spread across three venues and offering an eclectic line up of artists, the festival lacked one major thing: the Barb Wire Dolls. When I arrived around 11:30 pm, I was somewhat surprised that the crowd inside Three Links wasn’t larger and I immediately chalked it up to Oaktopia. However, the venue did fill up nicely during the Dolls set and I was relieved that more people were on hand to witness one of the most memorable performances of the year.
Fronted by vocalist Isis Queen, the quintet from Greece, via Los Angeles, epitomized what every band should strive for in a live performance: the playing was flawless and the energy was high. While Queen has received plenty of press for her stage presence – and she was certainly captivating – each member of the band will grab your attention. Lead guitarist Pyn Doll is a tall, lanky man whose cool demeanor belies his frantic playing. Drummer Krash Doll is a giant behind the drum kit. His playing both anchors and elevates the band as tempos shift or as songs go from quiet to loud. Guitarist Xtine and bassist Iriel Blaque are excellent musicians who are also a ton of fun to watch. They constantly banged their heads, whipped their hair, and bounced around their side of the stage without missing a note. Of course, Ms. Queen lived up to her reputation and was intent on giving a great performance. She even posed for the half-dozen cell phones in the front row as fans took photos and videos.
The set drew heavily from the recently released LP Rub My Mind, but also included songs off their 2016 album Desperate and their debut Slit. New tracks like “Back in the USSA,” “We Are Champions,” and “Call Me” are tight, MC5/Stooges-esque punk rock that fits perfectly alongside their older material. “Fade Away,” a mournful track written after the Le Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris, shows the band has grown as musicians and songwriters and have become more confident in exploring new musical ground. While it is a slower track, it didn’t break the pace of the show one bit. In fact, the crowd was mesmerized. As the band powered through their set, their energy never waned. What’s more, they seemed to get more charged-up the deeper into the set they went. Likewise, the crowd was a little stoic at the start, but were unequivocally won-over as the set progressed.
There’s only a few dates remaining on their current tour and you should absolutely be there if they’re coming to your city. You don’t have to know their songs or already be a fan to appreciate what they do. You’ll probably walk out clutching a few of their CD’s like I did.
– J. Kevin Lynch
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Barb Wire Dolls Tour Dates:
19-Nov, Lubbock, TX – Depot Obar Live
21-Nov, Phoenix, AZ – The Rebel Lounge
24-Nov, San Diego, CA – Space Bar
25-Nov, Los Angeles, CA – Whisky A Go Go