Brooklyn-based trio, Au Revoir Simone played at Neumos last week in support of their fourth album, Move In Spectrums. The group is composed of Erika Forster (vocals/keyboard), Annie Hart (vocals/keyboard), and Heather D’Angelo (vocals/drum machine/keyboard). Formed in 2003, their name comes from a line by Pee-wee Herman in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
On a particularly rainy night in Seattle, Bombay Bicycle Club played to a sold out
crowd at the Neptune Theatre. It turned out to be an epic all ages dance party.
Unfortunately, the planned opener Royal Canoe wasn’t able to make it to the
show – one of them was having health issues and the band was stuck in Portland
in the hospital. But because Royal Canoe was the only opener, Bombay Bicycle
Club needed to do something. They made the best of it, and Liz Lawrence, who
had been playing with them all tour – opened the show with a lovely acoustic set of
her own music. She walked out on stage, “Hi, I’m Liz Lawrence and I’m filling in for
Royal Canoe tonight.” While it wasn’t nearly as high energy as Royal Canoe would
have been, Lawrence’s songs were beautiful, earnest, and surprisingly soulful. It
was a lovely and welcome surprise to have her open the show, and her banter was
perfectly charming and perfectly English.
After Lawrence’s sweet but brief set, the floor was rumbling with anxiety. After
releasing their triumphant record So Long, See You Tomorrow last year, Bombay
Bicycle Club has been going non stop, topping charts in the U.K. and the U.S. That’s
quite a feat for an English band, especially one that’s not riding the hype of a debut
album. So Long is BBC’s fourth album. And that longevity made itself apparent
on stage, because holy crap, can that band rock. But it’s not the usual “rock” that
you would expect from English bands. Jack Steadman’s vocals are dreamy and
understated, like if you threw Alex Trimble and Jón Þór Birgisson’s voices into a
blender, then sprinkled the top with some Sufjan Stevens. However you want to
describe it, it’s wonderful to listen to on record, even more live.
Perhaps the best moment of the night came when Steadman sat at the keyboard and
prompted the audience with, “We dedicate this next song to Shakira.” Wait, what?
Then they started in on the heroic ballad “Whenever Wherever.” Ooohhhh I see. You
see what they did there?
I love Kitten. I love cats, and I thought I might like the band just because of the name, and sure they got my attention first because they’re called Kitten. So I checked them out, and Chloe Chaidez’ band is extraordinary pop musical goodness. Chaidez, co-wrote four releases with Chad Anderson: Sunday School (2010), Cut It Out (2011), Like a Stranger (EP, 2013), and this year’s debut full-length, Kitten. The first three releases offered some really sexy tunes such as “Kitten With a Whip,” “Like a Stranger,” and “Japanese Eyes.” Kitten, well, it whips you right in the face with more of an electronic sound, and every single song is awesome.
Chaidez had an early introduction to music; her father, Mike Chaidez, was the drummer in Los Angeles’ Thee Undertakers. Her first instrument was bass guitar. Well known for her songwriting ability, Chaidez is also known as a singer and performer. Turns out studying gymnastics may have influenced her live performances. “There’s a lot of rhythm involved in gymnastics, especially the floor routines. I sort of incorporate it into the stage performance.” I also wondered what kinds of things she thinks about while performing. Does she just black out? Chaidez tells me “I can’t help but lose myself. It’s really weird. It’s spiritual, and a sacred thing to me. I’m not thinking of anything except for what I want to do in that moment, and of course, the band.” With bands Joy Division, the Psychedelic Furs, and the Smiths as influences, Chaidez seems drawn to unusual lead singers: “Ian Curtis was a captivating performer. I love non-traditional rock stars. I never want to be that performer’s that’s like, “Clap your hands!”
After playing shows in Los Angeles, many at a place called the Smell, Chaidez recalls “I played there a lot. That was one of my first shows with Kitten. I had this silly, glittery pink guitar that I thought was cool at the time. I had a portable amp and asked the owner if I could play.” Chaidez recorded the first Kitten EP when she was fifteen years old, and has toured with some very big names, including Charli XCX and Paramore. I ask her if people often just call her Kitten, like how they would with Blondie. She tells me: “Not as much as you’d think. Maybe it’s because it’s not what I want. I haven’t gotten that too much.”
For Cut It Out, Chaidez got painted all in gold makeup. I don’t recognize her, and ask her, “Is that you?” “That’s me. For that group of songs, I wanted to be painted gold. I had no reason for it. I just wanted to do it and see what happened,” Chaidez says. That works for me. Along the lines of gold, I want to know if she feels as if “Money” is a departure from her other songs? Where did it come from? “It was very much in the moment. My brother (Julian Chaidez) was home for Christmas from college, and he was making beats. We were listening to a lot of the same music. We made these tracks, and we thought, if we want people to hear them, we’d need to do them as Kitten.”
Another strong thing about Kitten is the band’s lyrics, always fitting with the music, whether it’s a dance song or not (I tried to kill you in my dreams, “Sugar”). It turns out Chaidez is a big reader: “I love Bukowski. F Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac. There’s a writer called Zadie Smith – she wrote White Teeth – one of my favorites of all time. Oh, and Kurt Vonnegut.”
Kitten headlines the Vera Project on Tuesday, July 22nd. Show is $12, all ages and doors are at 7 PM.
Capitol Hill Block Party Sunday schedule brings me to focus even more on local acts in this year’s lineup. Seattle bands such as Kithkin, Haunted Horses and Sisters have my attention – do they ever.
Have fun during the final day of CHBP. Whether you plan ahead or just arrive and be surprised, there’s a lot of great music to hear.
Ever-so-android @ Barboza
Popular Seattle electro-rock duo Ever-so-android released a fabulous self-titled EP last year. I recommend catching them at Barboza, as not only do they sound awesome, (hi, Hope Simpson’s rad vocals) they look intriguing, too!
XXYYXX @ the Main Stage
XXYYXX makes a stop in Seattle before leaving the country for several European shows. The project, (Florida’s Marcel Everett,) makes some pretty sweet electronic sounds.
Kithkin @ the Vera Stage
Sunday’s Kithkin show, the unique and fiery band’s first Seattle show since returning from tour, will be packed. Don’t let that scare you off, just be warned that there will be many happy Kithkin fans. I don’t think they’ll bite.
Haunted Horses @ the Cha Cha Stage
Their biography says it all. Or does it? “A woman who died in 1976 after unsuccessful attempts to perform an exorcism upon her with psychotropic drugs” reads Haunted Horses’ bio on Facebook. The duo of Colin Dawson and Myke Pelly plays excellent hard goth.
Sisters @ the Barboza Stage
Sisters, a duo of Seattle’s Andrew Vait and Emily Westman, released a really, really good single called “Back 2 U,” and based on that alone I suggest this is a show very worthy of your time. Smooth, electronic, kind of soul. . . nice.
Dum Dum Girls @ the Vera Stage
Right after Sisters finishes its show, I recommend you see Dum Dum Girls. The New York quintet is another popular act sure to have a crowd of fans.
Tori Amos played at the Paramount Theatre last week, the first US show in her 80-city tour supporting Unrepentant Geraldines, her 14th studio album. Opening with “Parasol” and closing with “Hey Jupiter,” Amos thrilled the audience from start-to-finish. Husband and wife duo from England, Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou, opened.