Brooklyn’s Frankpollis persevered over some hurdles to let their expansive Brit-rock fill Mercury Lounge – with the help of some fine guitar wailing. Yes, they’re another band out of Brooklyn, but this three-piece is better than most currently coming out of that seemingly bottomless well. After having opened up CitySol Festival at Stuyvesant Cove Park a few weeks earlier (QRO photos), where they outshone many of the other seven bands that played, at Mercury Lounge (QRO venue review) on Tuesday, July 31st, Frankpollis took their sound indoors, at night, during the week, and away from the East River. Definitely a less ideal setting for their spacious music, that wasn’t all that the group had to contend with. But contend with it all they did, and did well.
Originally supposed to play third, and leading into headliners The Virgins, Frankpollis instead had to play second, flipping spots with Lisa Trullie & The Fibs. While in general this wouldn’t make much of a difference in terms of crowds, especially as they were still following a solo performance by Sebadoh’s Eric Gaffney, the show was sold-out that night – and it appeared that all the tickets were bought by Virgins fans who knew they could show up late. Mercury Lounge was something decidedly less than full when Frankpollis went on, and even though it grew as their set continued forth (and was certainly bigger than the near-empty space for Gaffney), the group’s wide sound still felt, at times, misplaced. The band came to acknowledge this fact, entreating the audience to come closer, with drummer Jackson Pollis asking, “Is it just too loud?”
And loud it was. Frankpollis doesn’t just delve into the ‘great outdoors’ of rolling hills and windswept plains, but actually marries that to an eighties-style guitar rock, with singer/guitarist James Pollis (bassist John Frank provides the first half of their name) more akin to Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood than U2’s The Edge. This sound was a little hard to open with, as the guitars of “E♭” came on a bit too strong. But then the band launched into “Expectations (It’s Alright Because I Never Expected Anything From You)”, their should-be-a-single (and should-have-a-shorter-title). A little simpler, more anthemistic, but also more heartrending, “Expectations” was where Frankpollis hooked the crowd and reeled them in. Then things exploded with the following “Malk”, whose soft expanse grooved the audience right into an extended guitar solo. On the higher side of the strings, James Pollis’ thrash never felt indulgent or overdone, always fitting within the piece.
From there, Frankpollis launched into an untitled new song that was rocking and fun, yet never without ‘the wail’. The following “No Name” (if that is its real name…) took things in another direction, with its wonderful vocals overlaid atop a sad, haunting melody. The straight, driving rock of “The Sleep of Death” was yet another face the group showed off, with Frank’s bass and Jackson Pollis’ drums taking more of a center stage. But in yet another unfortunate circumstance, that was to be it for Frank and Pollises, and while strong, “The Sleep of Death” was a little ill fitting as a closer.
On the last night of July at Mercury Lounge, Frankpollis had to face a not-perfect venue setting, a sold-out crowd that hadn’t arrived yet, a strict time limit, and technical problems not unfamiliar to Mercury. And yet the band overcame it all, as big as all outdoors, and as great as Great Britain.