People rarely get passionate about new bands any more.
Take a look at any blog, even one with a big circulation, and “0 Comments” is a common feature, and Facebook comments tend to be comprised of the band thanking the writer.
I saw an American blog with over 2 million Facebook followers, who had a regular”40 New Bands you must listen to” feature, the last time they did it, it had just 36 reactions. Even if they were all orphan, single solo artists, 4 of the artists themselves aren’t even bothered.
Abundance dilutes appreciation – having pretty much every recording ever made on your phone means that for most people, the days of buying a CD on the strength of a single, and initially not liking it, but with the determination of having spent money on it, persevere and eventually get it, is a distant memory for most people.
You find something you like and listen to it for a while, and then you go off that and listen to something else, there’s no shortage of music to discover.
However, what if I told you there’s still a Facebook group for a band where introducing a new fan to the group is met with dozens of reactions, and long articulate passionate comments, waxing lyrical about why they are indisputably the best band in the world?
I refer of course to the Skating Polly Fans Group.
It’s impossible to convey just how amazing Skating Polly are. Their Albums and Videos are incredible, but live they are like all my Glastonbury’s rolled into one, and even then it’s not even close, it’s like nothing I’ve experienced before.
Every press release and review about every new band always tells you how amazing a band is, never once have I received a press release that proclaims a band to be “turgid indie land fill” or “The kind of elevator music that makes you wish you’d taken the stairs to the 30th floor” or “Think Oasis, but even worse” or “he needs to stick that bloody trumpet somewhere uncomfortable”, each to their own and all that, but for me it would accurately describe a lot of the bands I’m sent.
Most of the bands that claim to take roof’s off venues, even if a storm were in the process of taking off the roof, it would quickly put it back on to contain the dreadful racket.
So when a band comes along that is genuinely worthy of the highest level of praise, for example that Skating Polly have an incendiary live performance, people who haven’t yet experienced the magic are probably a bit sceptical.
I’m sure I probably was, I mean one does not simply become a Pollyholic overnight.
It started with listening to Hail Mary on repeat, then Little Girl Lost and the Battle Envy, but finding out they were 9 and 14 when they started, I initially decided to avoid the early material assuming it to be pure cringe like The St Winifreds School Choir with “Grandma we love you”, and thought it might taint the later stuff.
But when I did finally listen to the earlier material, I was blown away how even at that age they were able to create music that still stands up today.
I remember being on a family holiday in Spain around June 2019, listening to Make it All Show on my headphones, knowing I had a photo pass for the Skating Polly show in October, and despite the fact I had photo passes for some pretty big names, and was shooting between 1 and 3 shows a week at the time, I was most excited about seeing Skating Polly live.
But I still thought it would just be another gig, probably a very good one, but I expected them to come out, play a few tunes, and go and life would go on.
After 30+ years of watching bands, I thought I’d seen it all, but I was very wrong!
Off course, not everyone gets it, there’s always odd people (some of them very odd) who like to try and burst other people’s bubble when they see them buzzing over something they are too lame or stubborn to comprehend, make themselves feel special by claiming to point out the emperors new clothes. If you’re determined enough not to like something you will succeed, I spoke to someone once who went to Glastonbury and thought it was overrated. How I laughed. Life is much better when you are open to new things, the best things in life are often a bit of a challenge. I mean Glastonbury is just a field with some stages and bands and people and leylines, with a high risk of mud, biblical flooding and heatwaves, on paper it sounds a bit shit… but there’s a reason why half a million people bash the F5 button on ticket day to compete for 220,000 tickets, which sell in less than an hour.
Mind, I need to have a word with Michael and Emily… there’s a band who should definitely be headlining the Pyramid, and they aren’t even on at Williams Green – what’s that all about?
When I first saw Skating Polly play live in Manchester, I was really shell-shocked, and I wasn’t the only one. The room was full of a mix of people who’d seen them before thinking that their expectations were far too high, and the band couldn’t possibly be as good as they remembered, but smashed their expectations once again, and us Polly virgins, who were completely unprepared for the magic we were about to experience.
I was desperate to bring the band to Liverpool on their next tour, but of course as anyone who has promoted in Liverpool, or indeed attended shows here knows, it can be a very challenging city, and I hadn’t put on a gig for a few years.
On the one hand, I wanted to share the magic with others, but on the other, it HAD to work… I couldn’t let down my favourite band, if they’d ended up playing to 40 people, I would have been devastated and the band would rightly be pissed off with me, I wanted to help not hinder their efforts through my own vanity.
So I ruled it out, until I saw Moonfrog promoting a Kaelan Mikla gig. I hadn’t heard of them before, and they sounded good and was mulling over whether to go and see them or not, but then I noticed a fellow Pollyholic I’d met at the Manchester Skating Polly gig was on the going list, so I sent him a DM to ask if they were any good.
Turned out he runs their fan page, well if he likes them, I had to go and see them!
And it was a great night, but one of the best things about it was that seeing the full room and general buzz, it gave me hope that a Skating Polly show could work in Liverpool, and if anyone could pull it off it was this guy!
So we had a chat, and before long we’d booked them to play in Liverpool! He had the experience, and the cool head, I had the enthusiasm for the band (as does he now he’s seen them live), it turned out to be a winning combination!
Obviously the show was put back a year, and I don’t need to tell you why!
When I photographed the rather excellent Princess goes to the Butterfly Museum (Michael C Hall who plays Dexter Morgan’s band) in November, it gave me hope that at last American bands were touring the UK once again.
But at Christmas, when tours were being cancelled again, I thought that’s it, it’s going to be postponed, or worst still, cancelled and it isn’t going to happen. My usual upbeat New Year preview was pretty morose IIRC.
It seemed with something like 80 tickets already sold (very good for Liverpool, 3 months ahead of the gig) it was all going so well, then looked like it was going to all be snatched away by covid once again.
When Beach Bunny postponed their February Manchester show, I thought “that’s it”, any day now Skating Polly will be cancelled.
But Skating Polly never fail to surprise you, and I couldn’t believe it when their agent emailed us to say “the band are keen to do this tour”.
Obviously I can’t ethically review our own gig, and you can probably tell I’m a little biased towards this band.
Fortunately Andy Von Pip was there to review it for Under the Radar
Whilst there were many ups and downs along the way, as there always are when putting on gigs, I honestly couldn’t have hoped for it to go better.
The venue officially holds 250, but I’ve heard it can be a bit uncomfortable when full, so we decided to cap at 170. Including a guest list of around 25, we slightly exceeded 170, but there were a number of no-shows, as it typical in this era of covid.
The bands were all on brilliant form, they seemed to get on with each other and were lovely people, everything ran on time, Couldn’t ask for more than that!
Having dinner with Skating Polly was surreal but amazing! All the things I wanted to ask them, but couldn’t speak!
I’d mentioned in a forum that I hope they play Oddie Moore on this tour since on the previous tour they only played it in London IIRC, whether coincidence or not, they played it (naturally it sounded amazing!) and Kelli gave me a thank you from the stage!
It doesn’t get much better than that!
Carrots has been a fan favourite for a long time, but the band refuse to play it live, until our show! I can’t even convey the emotions and how special that was!
(The shout-out at the end was actually after Oddie Moore, but added here by Andy).
But I think the best thing was seeing a room full of a mix of friends and strangers alike, really buzzing off the band. Seeing friends who were casual fans before, converting to Pollyholic! The DMs the next day from people “I should be working, but I just keep listening to Skating Polly”.
It’s a nice feeling, not because it somehow validates my choice of music, I’m long past needing validation for that, which is just as well in some cases, but it’s knowing that you’ve introduced a ray of sunshine into people’s lives, giving them the same buzz I’ve had off the band for over 2 and a half years with no signs of diminishing, and god knows we need it after the last few years.
One guy, fresh from a selfie with Peyton, came over and said “Why are they playing such a small venue?” and a lot of people asked the same question – it’s one I’ve been asking myself since I saw them the first time in Oct 2019.
I think the answer is that the music industry is corrupt, people don’t rise to the top through talent, it’s all about contacts and money.
But what intrigued me was that this guy said “It’s like seeing Bon Jovi in your local boozer”.
Now I must admit, from the first time I heard Bon Jovi from an old school mate who was showing off his new B&O HiFi, I’ve always hated Bon Jovi with a passion. In fact I think the best thing he’s ever done was Ally McBeal, and he was a bit wooden in that. I applied for a photopass when he played Anfield only because I wanted to see Bang Bang Romeo on support!
But hey, I’ve grown out of music snobbery (almost), I mean the guy can sell out Anfield so he must be doing something right for some people, and if his fans get even a fraction of the buzz I get from Skating Polly from him, who am I to judge? Some people probably think I’m mad for liking Skating Polly, but they are clearly wrong.
What I realised though is that perhaps it’s no surprise that people like me like Skating Polly, I’ve always been into Indie / Alternative artists (occasionally veering off like my Army of Lovers phase, or Clean Bandit) but here’s a guy who likes a very mainstream popular artist, and probably watched him at Anfield, who enjoyed Skating Polly enough that he thinks they should be playing Anfield.
To be honest, I would have qualms about Skating Polly playing at Anfield stadium, I mean I hate football/soccer so it doesn’t bother me, but my pollyholic friend I met at the Manchester gig is a big Everton fan, so he’d be conflicted! Push come to shove though, I believe he’d go with the Polly! Mad not to!
Another thing I was happy about, when doing gigs in the past, people often told me they would go but had nobody to go with.
I discovered a site called Meetup.com where people in the same boat, meetup and go together.
So I organised one and 18 people came along through it, which was more than 10% of ticket sales.
I feel guilty as I’d forgotten how intense things can be on gig day, so I was supposed to meet them before the show but didn’t manage, a few people came over to me and asked to join them after the gig, but I was just so overwhelmed with everything I couldn’t speak.
But what is nice is that they all had a great night, they seemed to get on really well, and perhaps some new friendships have been formed. I’ve promised to meet them at some future gig, they seem like a great bunch!
Some were new to town, some were ladies who quite understandably don’t want to go to gigs on their own and be a magnet for creepy guys.
Definitely something we will do again in future, only this time I’ll make sure I attend my own meetup 😉
With Moonfrog becoming almost as keen as me on Skating Polly since seeing them live, and a new member of the Pollyholic team on-board, we’re already brainstorming ideas to make the next show bigger and better, assuming they want to come play for us again!
Watch this space…. or better yet, go and watch some Skating Polly videos!
Of course, the reason the show did so well was really all down to the band.
I pestered everyone who would listen to listen to them, but if they weren’t a great band, people wouldn’t have come.
My neighbour was in painting our bedroom a while back (not a euphemism, my neighbour is a painter and decorator, and we needed the room painting) and I was listening to a playlist of cool songs (naturally) and then a Skating Polly song came on (naturally) and he came through to ask who it was as he thought they were amazing.
I asked him to the gig, but it was his son’s 21st that night. Well, he’ll have another birthday next year 😉
The sound engineer at the gig told us “I’ve had a listen, they are really good”.
When people listen, they generally like them, but getting people to listen is an uphill struggle.
2.5 years of banging on about Skating Polly on Facebook, and I still bump into people I’ve not seen for a while who ask me “Who are Skating Polly?”.
If you saw the video and wondered how I managed to get Toyah on board ,well.
She does these birthday shout-out things, and it clearly says no commercial use.
Nevertheless, I gave it a shot!
I said I’m putting on my favourite band, it would really help to have a famous person, could you just say Skating Polly are playing at Jimmy’s Liverpool on Friday 25th March 2022.
I firmly expected her to think “cheeky sod” and reject the order, a 6 Music DJ had already done so, imagine my surprise when I not only got the video, but she’d clearly checked out the band and liked them!
I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that a state owned broadcaster like the BBC that we pay for through the license fee, won’t play a record on their stations no matter how good it is unless you spend large sums of money on someone to schmooze them, and when you listen to some of the stuff they do play from mediocre bands with rich backers…
But fans can help them reach a wider audience!
You don’t need to hire a venue and book them for a show – only a mad person would do that kind of thing 😉
Just posting on your newsfeed, or telling people at work, or whatever, if every fan recruited just 1 new fan then they would double their fan base, which would be a step in the right direction. I know of at least a dozen I recruited last week at the gig, but I’m still finding creative ways to get people to listen!
It’s great discussing the band in the group, but it’s good to be pro-active outside the group too.
The band are no longer teenagers living in their parents basement, they are now adults with bills to pay, and with costs of touring going up, I’d hate them to reach a point where they no longer tour.
It’s heartbreaking to see such a brilliant band and lovely people have to crowdfund a new tour bus, when those who love the band know that Make it All Show should have been a massive global hit if there was any justice.
If the next album doesn’t go stratospheric then there really is no justice in the world. The new songs are sounding absolutely amazing, by the sounds of it this album will take the strengths of both The Big Fit and Make it All Show to be one masterpiece 17 track album.
Playing their hearts out, pitch perfect, 30 days out of 33 IIRC, and then off to do a US tour straight afterwards.
It’s great to have them as our little secret, and see them at intimate venues (I hate arenas and stadiums).
But if we love the band, then I think it’s our duty to help spread the word in any way we can.
I think I need to mention them more often on Facebook, which will no doubt enthuse my facebook chums! I think there are still a few “Polly Who?” types on there…
It’ll come as no surprise that their Manchester 2019 gig is no longer my favourite gig of all time, it’s now the 2nd! You can guess my new #1!
Skating Polly + Healthy Junkies + Natalie & The Monarchy
Friday 25th March 2022 @ Jimmy’s Liverpool