Skating Polly proves the future of punk is now

Matt Campbell

Musicians on a small stage playing guitar and drums.
Skating Polly performs at Surfside 7, Sept. 20. (Matt Campbell | The Collegian)

Fort Collins’ alternative rock venue Surfside 7 hosted Oklahoma City’s ugly-poppers Skating Polly this past Friday. Supported by local bands Plasma Canvas and Señorita Sometimes, Surfside 7 was brought to life, giving the band and fans a lively end to their tour. 

The evening started with an electrifying acoustic set from one half of Plasma Canvas: profoundly energetic singer/guitarist Adrienne Rae Ash. Ash’s witty and personal lyrics came in the form of a truly visceral and dedicated performance, allowing the raw energy of Plasma Canvas to translate in a more intimate and decidedly impactful medium.

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“I love getting the chance to play Plasma Canvas songs in an acoustic setting because I get to articulate the subtleties a little more,” Ash said following her performance. “The crowd was receptive, and I was happy to give them an intimate, mellow performance.”

Following Ash’s performance was an equally incredible and truly original set from Fort Collins’ own Señorita Sometimes. Despite the limited space, they managed to cram all five of their band members onto the small stage and deliver an incredibly fun performance. Señorita Sometimes played a healthy mix of songs, including many from their 2018 full-length record “Miss Sometimes.”

“(It’s) exciting for a small town like us to get national acts like Skating Polly,” said guitarist and singer of Señorita Sometimes Stacy Sevelin. “It’s a wonderful opportunity. We love it.”

The crowd was receptive, and I was happy to give them an intimate, mellow performance.”-Plasma Canvas member Adrienne Rae Ash

As Skating Polly took the stage, a thunderous roar of bass, guitar and drums tumbled through the building to a ready audience. Starting with “Queen For A Day,” one of the first singles of their 2018 record “The Make It All Show,” and a collaboration with Exene Cervenka of X, the trio launched into their performance with no holds barred.

Between Kelli Mayo’s manic stage presence, guitarist Peyton Bighorse’s cool harmonies and drummer Kurtis Mayo’s absolutely punishing drums, Skating Polly stuck to their guns in a performance that was unashamed and powerful.

Throughout the set, Skating Polly performed a mix of new songs, as well as crowd favorites, including “Protective Boy” and their most recent release, “Flyer.” While songs like “Flyer” and “Queen For A Day” demonstrated Skating Polly’s absolute power, the band did not hesitate to allow their talent as sensitive and introspective songwriters to be overshadowed by their visceral screams and ugly-pop nature.

“Little Girl Blue and the Battle Envy” saw lightly strummed bass guitars and beautiful vocal performances by Kelli Mayo and Bighorse ease the audience into a gentle sway, while songs like “Hail Mary” highlighted the band’s softer and more grunge-inspired tendencies.

Where the performance really shined was toward the end of the set where, in rapid succession, the band pulled out all the stops for “Camelot” and “They’re Cheap (I’m Free).” This allowed ample space for Kelli Mayo’s signature rock star moves, punctuated with pink cowboy boots moving through the air with lethal velocity. The set ended only for a moment as the band came back out for one more encore before returning respectfully and humbly to the merch section.

Skating Polly can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music

For Skating Polly, the future looks bright and exciting with new musical projects and some much-anticipated reissues.

“We’re finally pressing our second and third records on vinyl for a big 10th anniversary of Skating Polly thing,” Kelli Mayo said. Kelli Mayo also hinted to some collaborative projects in the works, including future collaborations with Exene Cervenka.

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Skating Polly’s performance at Surfside was evidence that the trio is one of the most original and interesting acts in music right now. They are lively and raw, while still allowing the performers and audience to feel intimacy. Their humility as both musicians and people is at a level that transcends the typical “rock star/fan” dynamic.

With the encouraging support of local acts on smaller tours like this, it’s clear that Skating Polly has not strayed from their DIY roots. They are still very much planted in community and support for fellow artists. For fans, it was a night of authentic music that transcended any egocentricity and brought fans and bands together for a truly intimate experience.

Matt Campbell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @mcampnh