Arts, Review, Off Campus

The Aquadolls Welcome Boston Audience With Engaging, Intimate Punk Concert

As Nirvana songs reverberated throughout the walls of Brighton Music Hall, audience members stood aglow in pink light akin to The Aquadolls’ logo and style, patiently awaiting the alt-rock girl band to take the stage. 

The Aquadolls, composed of Melissa Brooks on vocals and guitar, Jacqueline Proctor on drums, and Keilah Nina on bass, are known for their grunge-influenced pop-rock melodies. So when “Dancing Queen” by ABBA started playing as the girls danced onto the stage to start their show, the audience went wild with surprise. 

Tuesday’s show marked the first time the band played in Boston and the third-to-last stop on The Aquadolls’ co-headlining tour with alternative rock group Sitting On Stacy. Punk group GYMSHORTS performed as the opening act. The Aquadolls have been touring since 2016, but the current tour is their first since the start of the pandemic. 

Brooks has a natural stage presence. Rather than making Brooks rusty, the long wait to be able to start touring again appeared to fuel her fire on stage. Likewise, Nina and Proctor talked to the audience with ease, telling funny stories and making witty comments during the transitions between songs.

“I feel like, because of COVID, people [are] more appreciative of live music, and I’ve noticed that people are kind of going harder at the shows,” Brooks said in an interview with The Heights. “So I really want to do my best and put in my best effort to give everyone a good time.”

The Aquadolls began their set with “Mine” followed by “Troubled Valentine.” During both songs, Brooks traversed to the front of stage, encouraging people to clap and dance along to the songs, making the environment feel more fun and energized. Brooks made sure everyone had a memorable night, regardless if they were just there with their friends or if they were part of the “Aqua Fam,” the name of the band’s fan base. 

In line with other historical all-female bands such as Bikini Kill, The Aquadolls prioritized ensuring that everyone felt safe and welcome in their audience. 

“Our shows are always 100% safe spaces. No matter who you are, what you identify as, we love you. You are welcome here,” Brooks said. “Except if you are an asshole, then there’s the door.”

The Aquadolls then broke into one of their more popular songs, “Our Love Will Always Remain” before debuting their unreleased song “Sneaky.” According to Brooks, the band is testing out songs on this tour for its upcoming album. The audience clapped and screamed throughout the song, indicating a strong possibility for “Sneaky” to appear on the group’s next album.

“Sneaky” opens with beautiful, bright guitar and a deep bass line that takes a cue from the ’60s. The song contains a catchy chorus where Brooks wonders if she is just someone’s “sneaky little thing.”  

Before “Disappearing Girl,” Proctor proclaimed that it was Aries season and informed the crowd that it was almost Brooks’ birthday. Proctor and Nina then switched instruments, and each member took turns singing a part of the song.

Everyone’s vocals, not just Brooks’, sounded exactly like they do on the recording. The band stuck to playing renditions of its songs as they are played on the album, making each song easy to sing and dance along to.

Sometimes at concerts, the bass and volume of the instruments overpower the voice of the lead singer, making each song rather indistinct. But Brooks’ vocals shone through. The instruments were loud enough to get the audience moving but not so loud that they felt their heart might burst from the force of the reverberations. 

Brooks is a very interactive lead singer, incorporating the audience into each song and making sure everyone is moshing to their heart’s desire. For “Communicationissexy/ Idkhow2communicate,” a song about Brooks’ struggle in the dating scene, she taught the audience the chorus—“all I really want is somebody to talk to”—before playing the song. Everyone screamed the lyrics and let out their frustrations together. 

Much like the majority of the audience, The Aquadolls were dressed in punk-influenced fashion, such as pink plaid skirts, ripped tights, and of course, bright pink hair dye. This pink, punk–rock look coincided well with the band’s cover of “Take Me Away” from the movie Freaky Friday.

To close the show, The Aquadolls played “Wander,” which, according to Brooks, is always a fan favorite. Brooks and Nina danced up against each other during the song, and everyone on the floor jumped crazily, giving The Aquadolls one last burst of energy before they cleared the stage for Sitting On Stacy. 

Co-headlining the tour provided an opportunity for The Aquadolls and Sitting on Stacy to develop a close bond. Each band cheered on the other from the crowd during their respective sets. The love each band had for each other’s work—and for the fans in the audience—was palpable, as each grew closer throughout the duration of the show.

The perk of smaller venues like Brighton Music Hall is how close and personal they are. But the Aquadolls took this to another level by selling their own merch after the show and jumping into the mosh pit to dance with their fans during the last song of Sitting On Stacy’s set. 

As the audience trickled out of the venue and the lights were fading out, The Aquadolls were at the merch table, signing shirts and reminiscing with the audience about the songs and energy that made the night unforgettable. 

Featured Images by Aneesa Wermers / Heights Staff

April 1, 2022