Show Review: Ume with Kitten at Bottom Of The Hill, 6/13/12

by Dakin Hardwick on June 16, 2012

Mr & Mrs Larson (All Photos by Marie Carney)

 

My editor in chief and I had an interesting conversation by text specifically about my musical tastes. I confessed that it seems that the older I get, the more I like louder, faster, more aggressive music, and this seems to be counter the normal musical evolution. He made note that loud, fast music isn’t really fashionable right now, and that the main reason I relate to it is because I feel the need to counter mainstream musical taste. There’s a chance that he’s right. There is a better chance that the rest of the world is simply missing the glory of a dynamic performance by a ferocious rock band. And, on a beautiful Summer’s night in Potrero Hill, we were treated to an amazing evening of all that is loud and fast.

KITTEN!

Kitten is the single most appropriate name for this band. They are very young, very innocent, very playful, and difficult to control. Vocalist Chloe Chaidez is one of the most impressive bandleaders I have ever seen. At the very young age of 17, she manages to embody the very spirit of rock & roll, flailing about the stage in sync with the music, without standing still for even a moment. It’s not easy to bring in a crowd on a Wednesday night, especially to a club as far off the beaten path as Bottom Of The Hill. I, personally, was saddened by how loose the crowd was. This, however, didn’t stop Chaidez & co from putting in 110%. The band went full throttle into their 35 minute set, and Chaidez was literally everywhere. She ran from the back of the stage, to the front, she climbed on the speakers, and even spent the majority of new track “Cut It Out” dancing on a short ledge that runs along the side of the venue.

The band focused primarily on tracks of their new EP Cut It Out, which is due out on August 25th. The band has been slowly moving from it’s original post punk roots, and has slowly been weaving elements of New Wave and EDM into their sound, and the new cuts definitely lean heavily on the that sound. What’s great about them, however, is that they manage to keep the punk attitude and energy while exploring these new sounds, keeping the live show entertaining and engaging. They performed a dramatic reworking of The Smith’s classic “Panic” that was brattier than anything Morrissey every could have sang. When they Chaidez sang the line about “the music they constantly play says nothing to me about my life,” she didn’t sound defeated, she sounded like she was ready to go out and make the music that actually means something to her about her life. It was an impassioned call to arms that was genuinely reflected in what they do.

The set, which started out very synth oriented, progressively cranked up the guitars as time went on. The closing song was “Kitten With A Whip.” I have a list of songs that are so potent and searing that they essentially are the reason I go to shows. This song is in the top ten of that list. There are few songs that force you to dance like this one does, and when Kitten do it live, they put so much into to that you are certain that somebody will end up injured in the end.

Kitten Setlist:


Ume are one of the most deceiving bands currently touring. The look like an indie rock band. Their latest record, Phantoms, looks like a pink Animal Collective record. (The vinyl is also clear pink, and looks pretty awesome) Lead singer/guitarist Lauren Larson is a petite and blonde, and as the last person on earth that one could describe of “metal.” It was easy to think that this was going to be a short, sweet set of familiar pop songs. All misconceptions about this band were thrown out the window the very moment they actually started playing. Because within 10 seconds of their opening song, “The Conductor,” it was easy to see that this band wanted to rewrite the book on hard rock.This band isn’t here to play nice, they are here to play heavy.

With song after song, Larson continued to play her guitar as if it was a violent animal she needed to contain. She chugged and shredded and even threw in a little finger tapping for good measure. Her bassist/husband Eric Larson was merely present to hold down the low end, and drummer Rachel Fuhrer pounded those drums with equal parts speed, power, and precision. And within all this intensity, Lauren’s saccharine rasp of a voice should have been buried, but she managed sing above the heavy without resorting to screaming. The whole thing sounded as if Motorhead and Veruca Salt fused together to create the most perfect balance of feminine metallic crunch.

This evening was an exhilarating double header of what I believe is the next generation of high energy rock music. Expect to see a lot more from both Ume and Kitten, and don’t be foolish enough to miss their live show.

Ume Setlist:


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