He Said, She Said: A Two-City Concert Review of KOLARS
KOLARS is a Los Angeles-based rock duo, formerly of folk outfit He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, and the latest in our “He Said/She Said” music series. They’ve been relentlessly on tour for the past three years (over 400 shows since 2016), and while Passover prevented us from getting to the New York gig, we caught the Boston one – and were pretty happy we did.
Holly: Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA
Elie: Rough Trade NYC
Holly: 1 can of Guinness, and, immediately following the opener, another one.
Elie: 4 cups of wine (and then some) during the Passover seder.
Holly: I walked in one or two songs late for the opener. My immediate thought was, “what the fuck did I just walk into,” and walked straight to the bar. It was Calliope Musical, from Austin, Texas – a Flaming Lips-esque, zany, kaleidoscopic assault of characters, props and lighting. The lead singer has a great voice, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole thing sounded like a rock opera put on by Princess Unkitty from Cloud Cuckoo Land, or a weird dream sequence in a Baz Luhrman movie. There was also a bandmate with bright red hair running around all night wearing a white hazmat suit, bearing a strong resemblance to the Muppets‘ Beaker. It was quite a scene. Their hooks and melodies were very catchy, and they seemed to have upbeat personalities. It was a lot to walk into for a somewhat sober Wednesday night, but certainly not for the three gyrating kids front and center stage, who, in-between sets said, “Let’s get another beer and kick this next band up a notch!” Let’s not.
Elie: I’m glad Holly was the one who sat through it, and not me.
Holly: According to Wikipedia, KOLARS’ sound is described as “Desert Disco, Space Blues, and Glamabilly.” So my expectations naturally gravitated towards a Vin Diesel Riddick-style spectacle. Their self-titled debut has been on my rotation for a bit, and it’s definitely likable.
Elie: I had not heard of KOLARS until Holly told me about them. My expectations were low. I was wrong.
Favorite Part of the Set
Holly: KOLARS opened with a Neutral Milk Hotel cover, “King of Carrot Flowers,” which was pretty great. This husband/wife duo makes a lot of noise and has a big drum sound that The Vaccines capture so well. Drummer Lauren Brown also integrates tap dancing atop a drum kit into her rhythm, which I thought was going to be gimmicky, but it was actually really cool.
It was refreshing to watch this stripped down, tight set after the opening hoopla. Speaking of stripped down, at one point early into the show, Brown complained about her ripped tights falling down, and decided to hoist them back up from her drum kit perch. Rock n’ roll?
Elie: Being introduced to their self-titled 2017 release. Standout track – “Turn out the Lights.”
Holly: It would’ve been nice to have the vocal mic turned up a bit, or get lead singer Rob Kolar to sing closer to it. He has a solid glam voice – let’s hear it! Also missed were the backup vocals from the album – presumably Lauren Brown’s pipes. There also wasn’t much banter with the crowd – everybody loves a mini VH1 storytellers behind the music.
Elie: That I couldn’t make it to Rough Trade in time.
Best Song Performed
Holly: “Dizzy.” The guitar riff is the stuff that summer’s made out of. The crowd was all casual, arms swinging and dancing around. Good vibe.
Elie: Dayenu at seder.
Something You Saw that the Rest of the Crowd Didn’t
Holly: The kitchen of the Middle East restaurant. I entered the club at the wrong entrance (there are at least three), and a member of the kitchen staff took pity on me and weaved me through the secret speakeasy way. Should’ve asked for some hummus.
Elie: That there was no hummus in our kitchen.
Would You See Them Again?
Holly: Sure thing.
Elie: Yes, next time they come around.