DOLL SKIN: Phoenix-Based Combo Crushes Florida Festival

August 1, 2017 by: Shauna O'Donnell


Phoenix-Based Combo Crushes Florida Festival

Written By Christopher Long

THE HAVEN / ORLANDO, FL (7.26.17) – Razor-thin beams of sunlight sliced through tiny cracks between the promotional beer posters and the handmade band flyers plastered across the glass storefront – like low-rent window tinting. The nauseating fragrance of stale cigarette smoke hung in the air as a procession of sweaty-looking musicians dragged truckloads of gear from their late model mini vans double-parked outside, through the venue’s entrance, across the spacious “dance floor,” and to a “backstage” holding nook – blinding the gaggle of daytime patrons positioned on their acknowledged perches around the bar, each time the front door creaked open. Welcome to the rock show!

But with an impressive line-up featuring national, regional and local acts, tonight’s seven-band soirée would feel more like an indoor music festival than a mere beer-soaked bar gig. And while the boys in the other bands continued humping gear, trying desperately to make the show’s 7pm start time, the gals in the scrappy, Phoenix-based combo, Doll Skin somehow had loaded in – stealth-like – with their stage gear already fully in place. In fact, amid all the last-minute pre-show chaos, Doll Skin ace, Alex Snowden sat quietly on the edge of the stage, casually re-stringing and tuning her guitar, as ever-bratty frontchick, Sydney Dolezal manned the band’s Hot Topic-caliber merch booth – her attention focused fully on her personal iScreen.

Orlando’s own metalcore crew, Poor Advice opened the show shortly after 7:00. Although frontman Jordan Dunne’s in-between-song banter was mind-numbingly difficult to follow, his transparency was engaging. And any band who writes a song dedicated to the fictional House of Cards character, President Francis J. Underwood, deserves mad props, indeed.

Doll Skin frontchick / guitarist, Sydney Dolezal

“We’re Howling Midnight. And we play rock and roll!” – the infamous (modified) Motörhead intro announced the Orlando band’s arrival boldly. Residing stylistically somewhere between “Roadhouse Blues” and “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath,” the high-octane guitar / drum duo provided one of the evening’s most noteworthy performances.

Criss-crossing the country currently in support of their latest record, Phases, Pennsylvania’s modern-day progcore poster boys, Next to None wowed the crowd with their musical prowess and epic-length compositions. Featuring drummer, Max Portnoy (Yes, that Portnoy), the band’s 45-minute set was comprised of maybe only four tunes. “Our songs are longer than most (bands),” keyboard / vocalist, Thomas Cucé confessed, leading into the 10-minute finale.

Demanding that everyone come closer to the stage, Sydney Dolezal taunted and teased the Central Florida audience with complete cock-rock confidence as Doll Skin finally took the stage at around midnight. Opening with the ferocious “Roadkilla,” the nine-song set leaned almost entirely on the band’s just-released album, Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Doll Skin lead guitarist, Alex Snowden

Jumping and leaping, spinning, twirling and shredding – Alex Snowden was a non-stop tour de force. Combining the ability of Zakk Wylde with the agility of Emmitt Smith, the 18-year-old guitarist is poised to become recognized as one of rock’s latest and greatest talents.

Possessing authentic rock star swagger and classic movie star looks, Nicole Rich is a bona fide powerhouse – a monster player. Oozing allure, I remained uncertain as to whether the 19-year-old bassist was gonna reach over and kiss somebody on the cheek, or jump off the stage and beat somebody’s ass. #MystiqueMatters

Doll Skin bassist, Nicole Rich

Described best (by me) as one of today’s most exciting young drummers, Meghan Herring was unfortunately sidelined in Orlando by a health issue. AW, RATS! JUST SHOOT ME IN THE FACE THEN, WHY DON’T YA! However, with little or no advance prep, Next to None drummer, Max Portnoy (Yes, that Portnoy) stepped up, stepped in, and executed a masterful fill-in performance. #MVP

But even a full-blown, pedal-to-the-metal rock show can boast super-highlights – and Doll Skin delivered many. One of the band’s most lethal tunes, “Persephone,” was amplified further by the inclusion of Next to None vocalist, Thomas Cucé’s signature-style metalcore back-ups. And the chilling live version of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” was rivaled only by Dolezal’s mesmeric guitar / vocal rendition of “Sweet Pea.” #Superstar.

Snowden, Dolezal and Rich - meeting and greeting Orlando Doll Skin Fans.

Raging at warp speed, the two-minute mosh pit anthem, “Puncha Nazi” brought the sensational Doll Skin set to a neck-breaking conclusion. “The only good Nazi, is a dead Nazi,” Dolezal proclaimed from center stage – just before inviting fans to join the band at the merch booth for an post-show meet-and-greet. Ah yeah, after a set this intense, what I really needed was a cigarette! #TotallySatisfied

-Christopher Long
(July 2017)

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