Being smushed between enormous sweaty men has never been a more enjoyable experience. And you'd think a performance of the Hot Topic-clothed, Manic Panic hair-dyed, teenage ladies known as Kittie would attract a crowd filled with many more young ladies looking exactly like them, than the diverse crowd of people I was smushed between. It's all a testament of the greatness of this fine band, unique in many ways, yet still readily identifiable for all walks of life.
Myself not a big fan of the hardcore genre, I must admit I went out to the show looking to see what this new brand of "it" girl-the four ladies of Kittie-were all about, and more importantly, what the fuss was all about. My mission was to discover if Kittie is about more than girls with really cool bracelets.
All right, cut to the chase-Kittie puts on an amazing performance. Not the pyrotechnics, spitting blood type of theatrical performance, but the type of performance of a band letting the music speak for itself, where the onstage movement is of the performer being deeply moved by the songs they have written. Kittie was empty of posturing and feigned sincerity, and instead vocalist Morgan Lander manifested the emotional energy of Kittie's songs within much physical energy for the set. And Kittie's audience followed suit, genuinely getting caught up in the catharsis that is their music. Sharing vocals and guitar with Lander, Fallon Bowman's voice (deeper of the two vocalists) has that patented growl that many vocalists in the hardcore genre use as their style. Just listening to Bowman's angry screams on such songs as 'Choke" makes my own throat hurt: I don't know how it was physically possible for Bowman to vocalize in such a manner without using boxes of Luden's sore throat drops daily. Amazing.
Lander however sounds impeccably angelic one moment and hellspawn the next, surprising everyone. She is talented as a singer in the sense that Christina Aguilera is a singer, and yet is equally talented at sounding animalistic, with loud, powerful screaming into the microphone. And Lander does this change between vocal styles all in one breath, one note, even ("Charlotte," "Brackish"). It must be heard to be fully appreciated: my description is pale in comparison to the real thing.
Considering their ages (the youngest being 16), you might expect poor musicianship from such a young band. Well, you'd be surprised again with Kittie, because the set was played well, and the word "amateur" would not pop into your head even once. Bassist Talena Atfield and drummer Mercedes Lander prove themselves as musicians, and Kittie proves itself as a tight-knit band with an even tighter performance.
Kittie further proves it's not just about really cool bracelets. Kittie has talent, something special in a time when the phrase "all-girl group" may have you thinking of the Spice Girls or B*Witched, groups respected less for the music than for meaningless things like bracelets. While certain groups may proclaim "Girl Power," it is Kittie that shows the "girl power," with this powerful energy bursting their musical seams.
Yet Kittie is probably already tired that critics have noted the obvious: that they are all female. No matter what the gender here happens to be, when Lander threatens (in "Raven") "Get away from me/ Stay the fuck away from me," it forces you to take three steps back. You're half wanting to turn and run, the other half curious to see the consequences of staying. Stay and be mesmerized by all that you can experience from a Kittie performance, I insist.
Catherine Galioto is Staff Columnist. Contact her at email@example.com.