Live Review – Doll Skin in Harrisburg, PA

Your 18th birthday – the bridge into adulthood, the day you can register to vote, the day you can buy lottery tickets. For me, it was also a chance for me to see one of my favorite bands – Doll Skin. 

I had tickets to see them open for Tonight Alive last winter before the tour was cancelled, so I pounced on this chance to see them. This show was in Harrisburg, where I have never been to for a concert before, so I was excited to see what the venue was like.

 It was at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center, which looked like an old, fancy house. The inside, upon first walking in, was a restaurant; the actual stage was in a tiny room in the back. The set-up of the venue created an interesting dynamic between the bands and the crowd. Lots of the members of the bands were just walking around and mingling with the crowd, which was something I haven’t really seen before at a concert. 

There also wasn’t really a backstage area for the bands, so they were just hanging out at their merch booths and had their equipment along the border of the room. It was already a tiny venue, but the set-up of it made it feel even more intimate.

There were five opening bands, and for a concert on a Sunday night with school the next morning, that made me a little nervous. However, I was surprised at how quickly the time passed, since I found myself enjoying all of their sets. There were two bands that were touring with Doll Skin – Flashing Lights and Fame on Fire – and there were three local bands that were just playing this show – Words for Hands, Flying Jacob and Eternal Frequency. 

The first band that played was Words for Hands. When they first walked on stage, I was a little confused; there were only two members, a singer who was also playing the guitar and a drummer. I thought that their sound would be empty, like there was something missing, due to the lack of a bassist and no use of backing tracks. I was quickly proved wrong – if you were just listening to them without knowing that there were only two of them and no bassist, you would have no idea! Their typical rock sound was a nice way to open things and get the crowd warmed up.

Words for Hands impressed me with their sound for only being a two-piece band.

The next band that played was Flying Jacob. When I saw that they were setting up a keyboard on stage, I was excited to hear what their style would be like. Their sound was also typical rock, but the part that stood out to me the most was the singer’s vocals; her more soulful style of singing added a layer of complexity to their music that I found really intriguing and enjoyable. After they finished their set, Eternal Frequency took the stage. 

Flying Jacob’s combination of styles made their set really enjoyable.

Out of all bands that played this show, Eternal Frequency was probably the least enjoyable. From what I was noticing, it was the type of situation where they’re really good in studio recordings, but their live performances struggle slightly. At certain points, the singer’s vocals were out of tune, and all of the members were off from the backing track, which was really jarring to the ears. The backing track also seemed useless at some points, as there were some times where there would be vocals being played over the track that the singer could have sung – she even mouthed along to it – which made me question the purpose of having a backing track to begin with. When everything lined up and was in tune, they were enjoyable, but sadly that didn’t happen very often during their set. 

Flashing Lights ended up being my least favorite opener of the night.

Now, with all the local bands’ sets done, it was time for the touring bands to play. The first one was Flashing Lights, whose set I found myself really enjoying. Though I have branched out to listen to more subgenres of rock, pop punk was the first one I listened to and will always be my favorite. Sometimes, there’s just nothing better than really good pop punk, and that’s what Flashing Lights was. Their energy in addition to their style being one of my favorites made their set really fun to watch. The band’s sense of humor definitely added to the fun, especially when they joked that they were going to cover a Garth Brooks song before covering “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. Flashing Lights’ set was unfortunately cut short, so it was time for the final opener before I knew it.

The energy and pop punk style of Flashing Lights’ set made them one of my favorite openers.

When Fame on Fire started their first song, I was surprised, to say the least. The best way to describe it was a combination between metal and rap with metal vocals and instrumentals over a trap beat. I was definitely not impressed by their first song, but as they continued their set, it started to grow on me. I’m not a big rap fan, but it turns out that I do like it when it’s metal covers of rap songs. Their set included two covers – “Roxanne” by Arizona Zervas and “XO TOUR Llif3” by Lil Uzi Vert – which are what won me over and made me start really enjoying their set. By the time they finished, they were my favorite opener that played this show.

I honestly surprised myself with how much I ended up enjoying Fame on Fire’s set!

It was finally time for Doll Skin to take the stage. I’ve seen Doll Skin one other time at Warped Tour in 2018, but singer Sydney Dolezal was sick that day, so I was excited to hear her voice live when healthy. I love seeing Doll Skin live, as not only do they sound incredible, but you can also tell they genuinely love performing together. In between songs, they were all joking around with each other and seemed to be having a great time, which was really cool to see. In addition to interacting with each other a lot during their set, they also interacted with the crowd a lot, too. Whenever Dolezal saw someone recording on their phone, she got in their face and sang into the camera; during the chorus of their song “Love is Dead and We Killed Her” where the lyrics are ‘Did you know I’m a killer?’, Dolezal pointed finger guns at someone in the crowd and ‘killed’ them (I was one of them); and they brought someone on stage to sing the last chorus of their last song, “Puncha Nazi.” 

Dolezal’s interaction with the crowd was one of the best parts of the night.

One of the parts that blew me away the most and is the most memorable to me occurred during their song “Persephone.” “Persephone” is one of my favorite Doll Skin songs, so I was very excited to hear it live. This song features Dolezal’s screaming, which is just as impressive as her singing. During the bridge, Dolezal jumped into the crowd and had everyone form a circle around her as she laid down to sing that part. As the instrumentals picked back up, she handed someone in the crowd the microphone as she proceeded to do a front handspring, then immediately resumed screaming. I can’t imagine doing a flip like that or screaming, much less both right after each other! 

Dolezal lying down to sing the bridge of “Persephone” was one of the most impressive moments of the show.

After Doll Skin finished playing, I had a chance to meet them. Whenever I meet a band, I always end up stumbling over my words and making a fool of myself, but I didn’t in this situation. They’re one of the few bands that I’ve met and been able to talk to like they’re normal people, and I think it’s because not only are they so close to my age, but they’re also so kind and welcoming. As soon as I walked up to them and said hi, they all said they saw me rocking out in the front and appreciated it, which was really cool. It’s a really nice feeling to have people that you consider to be some of your biggest inspirations be so kind, approachable, and easy to talk to. This was definitely one of the best concerts I’ve been to, and I highly recommend seeing Doll Skin live if you have a chance to.

Doll Skin are definitely one of the easiest bands to talk to!

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