It’s six thirty AM and I have been up and awake since about four. This happens often if I have been drinking wine. Since then I have been listening to Skating Polly on vinyl, because last night I bought their album The Big Fit and Veruca Salt collaboration New Trick. The band graciously signed both for me and I am made up about it.
When I go see a band, I like to go with a friend and I had been struggling to find the right person to go to this gig with. Lots of friends are away on holiday right now (how rude!) so it took me until the last minute to find a friend to go with. By the time my friend Will Barnes said he could come, the gig had sold out. Thankfully, Skating Polly put us on the guestlist for the show. Phew!
I arrived in Manchester by train and met Will in a café bar by Oxford road. My wine had attracted a bunch of fruit flies. I think I swallowed one. It was gross. The bartender gave me another glass (this time without flies) for free and a glass of water to clear my throat. We went to the venue and tried to get in to meet up with the band. I consider them my friends and was keen to go say hello before the show in case they were too busy later. Long story short, security wouldn’t let us in the building until Seven PM, when the doors open. Will spotted a friend in the queue, so we jumped the line. Her name was Stacy and she had really cool turquoise and purple hair. She asked me “Are you Hannah Golightly?” She said she’d listened to my music online. I think that was a first. Being recognised. It felt like fame.
Seven o’clock came around and we went inside. We went up to the balcony to get a good view. A younger me would be down in the crowd trying to stir up a mosh pit. But older me is tired of being too short to see above heads. We buy more wine and cola and chat to some mega Kate Nash fans who are eagerly waiting their heroine, the headline act. I tell them about Skating Polly: “They’re amazing. Kinda like the Beatles mixed with Nirvana. Ugly pop.” Peyton Bighorse comes out to greet us, eating a banana. It’s really good to see her. It’s been a year since we played together in Cardiff and I’ve only seen them online since then. She tells me Kelli will be out to see me soon as she’s currently busy backstage. I point to the drumkit on the side of the stage and ask if it’s theirs. She says “it’s Kliph’s” (Kliph Scurlock of the Flaming Lips aka Kelli Mayo’s “Satan Father.”) I ask if the keyboard is theirs. She says “it’s Kate’s” (Kate Nash.) I tell her that I was hoping that they were going to play ‘A Little Late’ on it. She says “no”, then changes it to a “well maybe” with a glint in her eye.
Skating Polly are down to play at seven forty five. They take to the stage at eight. All three of them. Kurtis behind the kit, with Kelli and Petyon fronting, all in a line. They start playing something I don’t recognise… which is a thrill because I’m pretty familiar with all their material now I think. Then they seamlessly glide into the opening bars of Pretective Boy. I sing along, dance and exchange positive glances with Will. The venue is filling up and the crowd below the balcony are getting into Skating Polly, moving in time with their songs. Set highlights included ‘Ugly’ aka the song that got me hooked on SP when I stumbled upon them on youtube two years ago. But scratch that… ALL the songs they played were highlights. Kelli Mayo later hands me a set list asking if I want it. I tell her I might end up reviewing them if I take it. It’s a short but sweet set, with a beefier sound than I am used to with them, owing to the previously unheard combination of bassitar and guitar played skilfully by Kelli and Peyton. The drums sound heavier too now that Kurtis is playing them. But above all, pop sensibility rules this band’s melodies. They have that thing that Nirvana had. The ability to combine pop with heavy rock. Kelli headbangs as she plays and Peyton just looks cool AF. Their singing is on point and once again I am blown away watching them. Then, suddenly the unexpected happens… Kate Nash comes out to join them on stage, holding a mic and wearing a huge babydoll dress. They start to play what sounds like ‘A Little Late’, only on their guitars (it’s usually played on the piano)… Kate announces that “Skating Polly are my favourite band and this is my favourite song.” I’m with her all the way. Kate and Kelli take turns to sing the words “chase away the thoughts that make you hate coz hate does not create/ And hate at best will just keep you a little late, a little late” as Peyton sings back up. It’s a truly special moment for the band and for the audience. After that, Kate dashes off stage again and Peyton switches with Kurtis who is now playing lead guitar on their ultimate tune, the blasting ‘Alabama Movies.’ The set ends to the huge applause of the now full to capacity venue. I turn to the mega Kate Nash fans and ask what they think. They loved it! And it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling any different.