Cat Fight - April 8th, 2000 in Lawrence, KS
Saturday April 8th at The Pirate House in Lawrence, KS
Cat Fight & The Syndicate
Saturday Matinee III at The Pirate House and what a wonderful day for a drive to Lawrence sunny and warm with a slight breeze. A little cool if you didn't have a jacket on, but luckily nearly everyone at the Pirate House seems to wear a well beaten leather jacket, so catastrophe adverted. Lost Pride were schedule to appear along with another band, but both had to cancel, the former because a member got grounded... that's so great! So Cat Fight, The Syndicate, and a puppet show would have to be enough to entertain a smiling mob of crusties.
Unlike many bands that form only days before playing at The Pirate House, The Syndicate had practiced for months before deciding to make their debut and to further contrast, the three piece consisted of veteran players with an averaged age of 27 instead of the normal mean age of around 17. Despite these variances, The Syndicate had chosen the right (if not only) venue to debut their sound of fast-paced political hardcore that was 100% pirate.
Before playing, bassist/vocalist Tyler Galloway passed out thirty small booklets containing song lyrics and explanations of each song. Although the typical topics of social and political justice were addressed, the band's approach wasn't nearly so heavy handed and obvious a direct result of their "advanced age".
Tyler's vocals were short and barked and only semi-intelligible (even with the lyric sheet). His bass lines were equally as short and dominated by the sound of the strings rattling against the frets as he attacked them with a heavy pick. Drummer Kurt Lane plays simply, quickly and very efficiently on his small Gretch kit (which was clean, shiny, sticker-free and equipped with new crack-free cymbals). Guitarist Dane Galloway occasionally showed off his slayer-esque riffs on a Gibson Explorer but more often than not, he followed the punks rules and stuck with barred chords. Short of an very occasional breakdown, songs kept a quick paced hardcore tempo which would have been a bit monotonous if the band had played more than 20 minutes they did. In general the band were good although I expected a bit more from this veteran troop. Of course this was their first show, so I'll reserve all the shit talking until after I see their second.
Second up were Cat Fight (or The Band Soon To Be Known As The Band Formerly Known As Cat Fight according the their drummer I guess a name change is coming.) I'm not sure if this was the band's first show or not, but it very well might have as everyone seemed a little nervous even if they were only playing in Vince's dinning room to thirty friendly punk-rockers.
Cat Fight seems to largely be the band of lead singer Megan Kasten, a darling young punk gal that looks even younger than she is. She began the set nervously playing simple guitar chords, but after the first song (written on the ride over according to the drummer) she soon lost the guitar and had to face the what-do-I-do-with-my-arms dilemma. She ultimately arrived the same place that Alison Mosshart from Discount has a certain nervous twitch in her arms as they bent towards her face with open jazz hands.
The drummer seemed to be the elder of the group, and wanted to take control of the stageless banter, however when he did speak up it only seemed to annoy Megan. His kit was a small mis-matched three four piece with obscenely cracked cymbals (including a high hat cymbal so destroyed it barely hung on) and although I expected him to pound it maniacally his drum work was varied and smart, even if not always well played.
The band's songs were familiar two chord punk rock affairs (although the guitarist's blank, bored stare hinted that he might have some unutilized chops) with a sound reminiscent of the poppy early 80s skate rock (and thus the late very radio friendly 70s UK punk). Megan's vocals were somewhat spoken (even when she should have been singing) but it usually worked well. Although the band played a bit long for most of the Pirate House regulars, Cat Fight did the right thing in honoring the house's patron saint, Ian McKaye, by performing a sloppy, unrecognizable Fugazi song as a closer.
I exchanged contact information with Megan, promising to get her band a show at El Torreon, and then headed back to Kansas City. On the drive back I listened to Die Toten Hosen's Learning English Vol. 1 and on a sunny day I fantasized about being in a band like Cat Fight (and being 10 years younger).