Kittie live in St. Louis 8/16

Kittie, Psychostick
and More at Pop’s: A Concert Review

By Matt Albers

            The humble side stage of Pop’s in
Sauget, IL, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO, was blessed
by a rare treat on Tuesday, August 16 when Canadian all-female metal band
Kittie headlined to a small but ecstatic crowd. Fans that night were treated to
a variety of different national acts and local openers and although the evening
made for a very worth-while outing of live music, a few aspects may have stuck
out as negatives to some patrons.

            Announced in early June 2011,
Kittie’s headlining tour featured two other metal bands as their openers, Dirge
Within and Diamond Plate, both from Chicago, IL. The local openers booked for
the St. Louis date at Pop’s were As Earth Shatters and Make Me Break Me, which
is fronted by Anthony Sasser of The Beard Productions, the local agency company
responsible for booking the St. Louis date of this tour. Later in the same
month, it was announced that Tempe, AZ comedic metal “humorcore” band
Psychostick, was added to the bill just under Kittie, as the official CD
release show for their latest album which dropped the day of the concert. This
addition was met with mixed reviews in the days leading up to the date of the
show.

            After Make Me Break Me, the only
non-metal band to play that night, finished up their set, As Earth Shatters
warmed up the crowd further with their heavy aggression and melodic song
structure and vocals. This local band seemed to have worked hard to step up
their game by the night of this show, both in their music as well as their
stage presence. The first of the national touring acts was street-thrash band
Diamond Plate, promoting their first full-length album Generation Why?, released on Earache Records one week earlier.
Diamond Plate’s ridiculous, pounding speed and unrelenting energy generated a
positive response from the still passive crowd, thoroughly entertained by fast
and impressive guitar shreds and raspy, high-pitched power metal-esque vocals.
Dirge Within followed Diamond Plate, also promoting a new release, a new EP
entitled Absolution. Mixing sounds of
metalcore, groove metal and thrash, this band served as a successful buffer between
Diamond Plate’s traditional thrash to Kittie’s eclectic metal sound. After
fixing some faulty microphone problems earlier in their set, Dirge Within’s
strong and demanding stage presence yielded the first substantial mosh pit of
the night.

            Performing at Pop’s for the release
of their latest album, Space Vampires vs.
Zombie Dinosaurs in 3D
, Psychostick took the stage in front of the largest
crowd of the night, which almost packed the side stage floor of Pop’s. Since
the 2009 release of their last album Sandwich, Psychostick has generated a very strong
fan base in St. Louis in the past two years. Die-hard fans, donning ridiculous
hats and costumes inspired by those made famous by the band members, crowded
around the stage as Psychostick opened their set with the first track from
their new album, “Welcome to the Show,” a satirical narrative of the act of
being at a concert that included demands from the audience, both cliché and
outrageous. In honor of the CD release, Psychostick’s nearly hour-long set
consisted of many songs from the new album, which were met with great pleasure
from their fans, as well as classic favorites including “Two-Ton Paperweight,”
“The Jagermesiter Love Song,” “ABCDEath,” and of course, closing with their
most famous song “Beer!” It was comforting to see that the members made a point
of taking time out of their set to give thanks to Kittie and their openers as
well as the venue for allowing them to share the stage with them for their CD
release.

            Although the addition of Psychostick
ultimately was a good move for ticket sales, especially with the demographic of
both Kittie fans and Psychostick fans, it was disappointing to see one third to
almost half the crowd leave Pop’s after Psychostick’s set before Kittie even
performed. However, this did not appear to hinder Kittie’s already strong
passion for their music and dedication to their fans, proved by their
sixteen-song long set which lasted over an hour. Their live show was filled
with tight and professional musicianship, making them sound just as good live
as on any of their albums. Supporting their upcoming sixth studio album I’ve Failed You, Kittie framed their set
with songs from said new album, opening with the title track and closing with
their latest single “We Are The Lamb.” Their songs spanned across all of their
albums, including a rare full performance of the title track of their 2000
debut Spit. Their set displayed the
range of their style throughout their career, which has expanded from numetal
roots to its current peak of very thrashy groove metal.

Many songs were played back-to-back in
lengthy blocks, leaving only a few breaks for the band to take a break and
prepare for their next songs. Front woman Morgan Lander displayed a very
reserved persona during these breaks, resulting in lack of onstage banter with
the crowd, which was interesting considering that her precise dual vocals and
guitar work were strong during her performance, and while playing during vocal
breaks she worked the stage, professionally hamming it up to the audience with
aggressive screams demanding a crowd reaction. Lander’s vocals were also
well-supported by drummer and sister Mercedes Lander, providing the only backup
vocals in the band, both harsh screams and clean harmonies, an uncommon feature
among female-fronted metal bands who utilize recorded backup vocals during live
performances, such as In This Moment and Straight Line Stitch. Guitarist Tara
McLeod showcased her talented solos through her confident stage presence while
bassist Ivy Vujic’s playing and working the stage with her ferocious windmill
headbanging was amplified further by the fact that she was not afraid to play
the show on the stage at Pop’s completely barefoot.

During their show, Kittie appeared to
show little to no resentment to the fact that Psychostick had a larger crowd
and fan base, giving them and their touring partners Dirge Within and Diamond
Plate credit for their performances. When Kittie requested their enthralled
crowd to start up a circle pit, Morgan Lander made it a point to make mention
of Psychostick’s successful slow-motion circle pit – a staple while performing
their song “This Is Not a Song, It’s a Sandwich!” – explaining that since there
was already a slo-mo circle pit there should at least be a fast one as well.
The only statement Lander made that may have been an expression of resentment
was a mention of a song Psychostick performed off of their new album called
“Because Boobs.” Lander stated, “We don’t have any songs about boobs, but we don’t
really need to because they’re just there…I think it’s better this way.” Not
only was this a valid point, but this statement may also have simply been a
harmless joke delivered from Lander’s dry, reserved stage presence.

While it is true that the addition of
Psychostick to the bill did help ticket sales and overall turnout to a show
that may have been originally better suited to a venue like Fubar or The
Firebird, all the bands brought something different and unique to the table,
giving the concertgoers a little bit of everything. Fans who stayed for the
entire show could not help but feel pleased and complete about spending a
Tuesday night out with talented musicians and diverse metal. While those who
left without seeing Kittie did themselves a huge disservice, those who did stay
for their set experienced a fulfilling set from a legitimately talented,
genuine and persistent metal band that so rarely visits the St. Louis area.

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