On Sept. 11, a crowd of pop-punk enthusiasts made its way into Berkeley’s historic UC Theatre. Though audience members all wore masks, the gathering in the red-tinted auditorium gave them a glimpse into the possibilities of post-pandemic life. Concerts may have gone dark over the past 1 ½ years, but the crowd was sure of one thing — pop-punk’s still not dead.
Since Aug. 31, pop-punk fixtures New Found Glory and Less Than Jake have been traveling across the U.S. as part of their Pop Punk’s Still Not Dead Tour. While these bands have over 20 years of experience under their belt, they brought along a relative newcomer to the scene — Toronto based singer-songwriter LØLØ. Throughout her set, LØLØ established herself as the younger generation’s response to a genre that never seems to fade away. Instead of extinguishing the flames, LØLØ actively fuels the pop-punk renaissance.
“Make some noise if you have no idea who the f— I am,” LØLØ exclaimed toward the opening of her set, eliciting a prompt roar from the crowd.
LØLØ’s witty, candid remark set the tone for the remainder of the performance — she acknowledged her relatively new status in the pop-rock scene, but continued to stomp, shout and bring infectious energy to the UC Theatre throughout her set.
She opened with the guitar-heavy “Death Wish,” airing her relationship troubles with grungy, playful sincerity. “I kill everything I’ve ever loved,” she sang with her effortless belt over the upbeat accompaniment. LØLØ radiated pure, infectious energy as she made her entrance, leaving audience members with no choice but to dance along.
LØLØ brought the same enthusiasm when performing her next singles, each of which will be featured on her upcoming EP Overkill, set to be released in November. During “Lonely and Pathetic,” she mixed playful humor with not-so-subtle self-deprecation, repeating the line, “Guess who’s lonely and pathetic again?” The unapologetic “Die Without U” saw LØLØ openly exploring conflicting feelings in a relationship — she wants to kill her significant other, but she also knows she would die without them.
Audiences didn’t know many of LØLØ’s original songs, an issue she anticipated. She warned the crowd to not think of her as a “dumb b—” because she had a solution up her sleeve. She then launched into a cover of Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag,” which stirred immediate excitement in the crowd.
Midway through, her guitarist Ben threw on a blond wig, effortlessly filling the role of the song’s central love interest Noelle. He even stepped up to sing from her portion of the song, squeaking, “I’ve got two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby” in his artificial soprano.
LØLØ had palpable chemistry with her band throughout the performance. Besides acting along with the surrogate Noelle, she frequently danced and laughed along with her bandmates. Together, they generated an energy that readily seeped into the crowd.
Toward the end of her set, LØLØ performed two unreleased songs from Overkill. Like the previous singles, they were deeply imbued with pop-punk influence. However, she also blended in elements of trap and hip hop. “U Look Stupid” effortlessly merged angsty guitar riffs with a continuous trap beat — cultivating a distinctively LØLØ sound.
Finishing her set with the unreleased “Hurt Less” was an interesting choice, but LØLØ’s high energy performance left the audience engaged to the end. She kicked over her mic stand and got down on her knees as she sang about being flung out of an airplane and pushed off a cliff — all things that would hurt less than heartbreak.
By the time her set was over, it felt too soon; the audience simply could not get enough of LØLØ. With her infectious vitality and modern take on pop-punk, LØLØ managed to bring back the light of pre-pandemic life, even if no one knew who the f— she was.