The Dollyrots - Family Vacation: Live In Los Angeles (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Dollyrots

Family Vacation: Live In Los Angeles (2016)

Arrested Youth Records


                The latest release by The Dollyrots, Family Vacation: Live in Los Angeles, includes a DVD and CD of their live show. While the live album is a tricky pursuit, a good video documentation is an even trickier one. Luckily, both not only work in standalone form, they work even better as complementary pieces.

The opener, “My Best Friend’s Hot,” shows the band hitting on all cylinders. The music is tight, the vocals are on point and the energy is amazing. This song sets the tone for the rest of the album, as all of the songs succeed in replicating what anyone hearing the studio versions would expect to hear. Which is, ultimately, where most live albums that don’t work run into problems, they are unable to replicate what they do in the studio in concert. The Dollyrots not only accomplish everything they did in the studio, they take it to the next level.

The third track on the album, a cover of Melanie’s “Brand New Key,” is one of the most fun moments on the album. It also gains special importance to the history of the band when you read about how the song was an anthem of liberation for Kelly Ogden, before her husband and bandmate Luis Cabezas introduced her to punk rock. It takes all the amazing pop sensibilities of the original and combines it with the punk rock energy and volume Dollyrots fans have come to know and love.

One of the tracks that benefits from the visuals provided by the DVD is “Jackie Chan.” The song, like everything else on the album, is packed with energy. What really brings it all together though is when former Dollyrots drummer Chris Black and Bowling for Soup vocalist Jarret Reddick come on stage and everyone starts singing the theme from “Cheers.” Is it goofy as hell? Sure. But, it’s exactly the kind of stuff that happens at local shows all over the country every night. Friends having a great time together, and the video of this really adds to that feeling. Even though The Dollyrots are bigger than many of the bands many of us think of as “local” and Bowling for Soup have caught their fair share of criticism in punk circles over the years they’re still doing a lot of the same things we see in our own local scene. After the song is over, Rikki Styxx hands the sticks over to Chris Black to finish out the song. Call it whatever you’d like, I’m calling it camaraderie. And that’s awesome.

All in all, this album has made me regret never making it to a Dollyrots show when they’ve played in Southwestern Ohio. The band was tight and their interaction with the crowd was great. In addition to the album being on point musically, the DVD succeeded because it made me want to be at a show. Too many live concerts fail to do that, simply because of how the video production team works. This is a great live album and a great video documentation of it. The live album is a tricky dichotomy that either takes bands to the next level, or shows how over produced their studio work is. The Dollyrots, are moving on up.