He Said, She Said: A Two-City Concert Review of KOLARS

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 at 5:07 am by

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.

Show Location

Holly: Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA

Elie: Rough Trade NYC

Beverages Consumed

Holly: 1 can of Guinness, and, immediately following the opener, another one.

Elie: 4 cups of wine (and then some) during the Passover seder.

Opener

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.

Expectations

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.”

Gripes

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.

Recent Stories

Levain Bakery to Open First Downtown Location on Lafayette Street Next Week

In a first, Levain Bakery is headed downtown. News that we first reported in March 2019. Now, more than a year after breaking the news, the sweets shops confirms that next Wednesday (February 26) is the opening date at 340 Lafayette Street (at Bleecker Street). Teaser signage in the window had promised this debut as […]

Hoy Wong Restaurant Fades After 42 Years on Mott Street

A Chinatown stalwart is now retired. The Hoy Wong restaurant at 81 Mott Street closed down last weekend. A handwritten sign on the front door explains that the lease was up, and ownership elected to retire instead of renew. The eatery spent 42 years in the neighborhood and a popular pit-stop for locals and tourists. […]

Scarr’s Pizza is Planning a Second Location at a Midtown Food Hall

Out of nowhere, news that Scarr’s Pizza is expanding to include a second city location this spring. Eater had the scoop yesterday, citing the website of the architecture firm Le Whit, which lists the pizzeria as client. The new location is similarly small – 250 square-feet, but “reiterating the restaurant’s current branding” with its “retro […]

Talkin’ ’bout My Generation: Memories of Bill Graham and the Fillmore East

While working on our story about the new “Bill Graham and The Rock & Roll Revolution” exhibit at the New-York Historical Society, this reporter started collecting personal stories and memories of Graham’s legendary music venue, the Fillmore East. Located on Second Avenue and East 6th Street, the building began life in 1926 as The Commodore, […]

Chatham Square Library Closed for ‘Building Repairs’ Until Next Month

The Chatham Square Library is currently down for maintenance. The so-called “building repairs and improvements” are scheduled to last through February 29, with the library itself to reopen the following Monday (March 2). Until then, borrowers can return books and periodicals to the Seward Park branch just down East Broadway. The Chatham Square branch of […]