Isis Queen, of the Barb Wire Dolls, walks into Reggie’s before the show and all heads turn. She’s a charismatic cross between Marilyn Monroe and Debbie Harry with classic features and a slim body. She’s a study in style, though not a very conventional one.
Hers consists of light brown, textured hose, tiny black shorts, leather suspenders and school girl anklets which peek several inches over her heels. Barb Wire Doll’s drummer is bare chested and the guitarist is covered in ink. Right now her smile is genuine as she greets the fans, but her attitude and tone will change once she’s onstage.
And don’t take them home for dinner. Your mother will scream. Isis is fed up with people who don’t take a stand. She is shocked that American youth are so complacent about Wall Street and she’s ready to take them by the hand after she knocks some sense into them.
She and guitarist Pyn Doll are from Greece. They lived in Crete in an artist’s colony, not long ago and ended up playing on the LA strip after they were discovered by an American DJ.
Lead singer Isis, Pyn Doll, Voodoo Doll (bassist) and Krash Doll (drummer) want to take America by storm. They’re excited to be here, but determined to shake things up. Their music is not for the meek.
Their set is late on a work night, but they get the room reasonably filled up with local youth. “Our freedom has become our slavery,” Isis screams. She tousles the dark roots in her bleached hair with her long fingers. “Who gives a shit what people think about you?” she spits out, grabbing a young man by his collar, like an angry lioness.
Songs like ‘Punklove’, ‘I Wanna Know’ and ‘Black and Blue’ melt into each other, as the hooks are not commercially conventional.
Pyn plays singular notes in the background. The music is predominately punk. There are a few distinguishable progressions that could be considered more traditional rock, but they are rare. Isis works the stage. She writhes on the floor moaning and then climbs on top of the drum kit.
“Get out! Get out” she screeches, “before it’s too late,” as she winds her way through the crowd. “Pick up a rock, Chicago!” One song is called: ‘Shut Up Shut Up’ and I think we know what it’s about. She spits bottled water on the floor, which lands only inches from a hipster’s polished shoes, in the middle of a cadence.
‘Seek and Destroy’ is a Metallica tune with catchy lyrics and a palpable riff, but it’s been borrowed by rugby teams and even a Chicago White Sox baseman as a theme song, so, onstage, it’s got to live up to its irreverent edge - it can’t become just another cover that soda companies bid on. Isis uses her force and aggressive antics wisely to punch her own stamp on it.
Pyn watches her movements closely from the sliver of his eye. He’s such a tall man that his guitar can be slung low, and he can still tower over her petite frame. His clothing looks loose and comfortable, but his guitar playing is wiry and static. He’ll only play the one long solo tonight, which is a shame because he’s got some chops and he’s also the Doll’s primary songwriter.
‘The World is on Fire’ has an electric pulse. What makes the band stand out is that Isis is one of the few females to front a punk-oriented band and she knows she’s got some big shoes to fill. Her energy is spellbinding and being a pioneer seems natural. She’s a party girl harbouring a dangerous woman.
The bass line throbs as she rants. She knows she can depend on her crew for harmonies, but the concept of melody is not as strong as the message. ‘Punk the Fussies’ has the best hook and is the most contagious. Barb Wire Dolls want to reclaim the punk scene that gave youth purpose in the UK and on the west coast of America. You got to start somewhere.
The audience can’t take their eyes off of her, but the Dolls are at the beginning stages of their American tour and everyone is testing the waters. The kids like the sound and are amused by the antics, but do they really understand why Isis wants them to tear down the walls, why ‘Street Generation’ should be their anthem and why they should occupy Wall Street now? If not, the beer’s cheap and they can honestly say they closed down the bar.
Photos by Jim Summaria www.jimsummariaphoto.com