LOS ANGELES, CA- I remember the first time I saw Sammi Doll on stage. She was performing with her project Bullet Height at the Whisky A Go-Go and I was mesmerized. Not only was their music extremely engaging, but their performance left such an impression on me that I kept tabs on their social media accounts in order to make sure I didn’t miss another opportunity to see them perform live again. In fact, when I wasn’t able to fit any of their performances into my schedule, I actually booked them for my own showcase celebrating the debut of my first ever photo exhibit at The Satellite in April 2020 … but we all know how that turned out… Damn you, Covid!
I caught Sammi Doll on stage earlier this year when she played The Belasco with Kat Von D, and seeing her on stage again, whipping her hair to the beat as she pounded away at her synths, made me long to see her do her thing with her own music again. When I saw she would be performing a “solo” set at Bar Sinister, I quickly blocked that Saturday off in my calendar. I was NOT going to miss this gig.
Opening up for Sammi Doll was the artist known as DEVORA. She defines her music as “outlaw pop” and I could hear that vibe through her performance. Stepping onto the stage a black ensemble, laced up at the sides, topped off with a Stetson hat, she looked the part of an outlaw country singer.
Her music reflected the visual and was a compelling mesh of pop, outlaw country, and a splash of goth. Her melodic lines and lyrical themes felt rooted in country music, while her instrumentation played around with pop and dark-rock motifs. It’s a clever amalgam of genres and certainly something that was new to my ears. I don’t want to call it gothic-country… as the subject matter of her music, while at times dark, isn’t necessarily as brooding as a Colter Wall… but it’s dark enough to give her pop-country stylings that gothic kinda vibe.
The artistic possibilities with Devora’s music are intriguing. With only one EP under her belt, It’ll be interesting to see how she develops and what sonic elements she decides to focus on.
Sammi Doll @ Bar Sinister 1/29/22. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
Next up was Sammi Doll, and all I can say is, “Wow.” She brought the whole package to Bar Sinister. Sick lighting set up. Amazing music. Dynamic stage presence. She even brought her own fog machine! She took us all on an intensely satisfying journey through her synth grounded soundscapes.
While this was a Sammi Doll show, most of the songs she performed were songs from Bullet Height’s debut album, No Atonement. “Fight Song”, “No Atonement”, “Wild Words”, “Break Out Hearts Down”, “Bastion”, “Up To The Neck” & “Hold Together” were all on the setlist. When I asked her about the future of Bullet Height, Sammi explained:
“… It’s still a project but can’t progress into anything new without the founding member, Jon Courtney. It’s first and foremost his brainchild, so I feel anything from this point forward has to be under a separate entity, until we collaborate again…”
To be frank, I actually loved the Bullet Height songs with Sammi basically taking control of all of the vocal duties. A good bit of Bullet Height’s music is done as a duet with a male and female vocalist, but Sammi’s voice is so crystalline and pure, that I personally found it to be an improvement just having her vocals featured throughout the music with male voices harmonizing in certain instances.
Sammi Doll gave us a glimpse into her solo work with a handful of new songs that she performed at Bar Sinister. Of the three (I think) new songs she wrote “solo”, her 2020 single “An Om Ie” was the only one familiar to me. The two other songs, from what I could decipher from peeking at the setlist were titled “Savage” and “Par A”… unfortunately, I don’t think I got any video snippets of those songs. As a special treat towards the end of her set, she had her friend Avi Ghosh of Art Versus Industry sing a song with her.
Accompanied by some familiar faces (Dante Phoenix on guitar and Bryan Stage on bass… I couldn’t tell who was on drums because of the fog machine… lol), Sammi Doll had the same adrenaline pulse through my veins that got me hooked on her and her music over 3 years ago. With every hair flip to the beat and every fist pump to the sky, Sammi sucked the crowd into her world of visceral intensity. Whenever she snarled into the mic, you couldn’t help but snarl back in solidarity. It was beyond satisfying.
Barring another global lockdown, Sammi Doll’s got a busy year ahead of her. Starting February 28th, she’ll be touring the world Kat Von D on the “Love Made Me Do It” tour (which I highly recommend checking out if you are able to) through the end of May. I can only hope that when she’s back in town, she’ll be working on her own music and performing more gigs in L.A. sooner rather than later.
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