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Review: Buzz band Kitten goes wild at Stubb’s

Eric Webb
ewebb@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 16, 2014

Chloe Chaidez has the energy of Tina Turner and the precision of the Tasmanian Devil. That sums up everything the lead singer of Los Angeles buzz band Kitten did at Stubb’s on Tuesday night — the spirit was unflaggingly willing, but the flesh sometimes just a tad weak.

Chaidez, the enviably talented daughter of a punk drummer, doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with her gigantic voice and her bigger stage presence. One one hand, she’s a feral punk princess with a torn floral shirt and uncontrollable plumage that would make Lorde say “Tone it down, girl.” She’s constantly thrashing, screaming and beating a tambourine against her breast like she’s a scene girl who pushed past security to make it up on stage. On the other hand, she’s a versatile vocalist who breaks out the church hand when she goes for melisma. Chaidez turns faces that would put Maya Rudolph’s Whitney Houston impression to shame, all while fronting a very straightforward synth rock band.

An artist can be many different things, but Chaidez seems to exhaust herself whiplashing back and forth over the course of each song, every song. All that’s to say that Kitten, who released their debut, self-titled album this year, has all the right tools to rock, even if they are frustratingly deployed.

Chaidez’s connection to the modest crowd yielded magic — performing songs like “Cut It Out,” she never met a hand she didn’t want to hold or a fan she didn’t want to share the mic with. So, too, did her wild talent come in handy when she and the band seemed to be on the same page. She found her control, mounted the sweeping synth and guitar of the M83-styled “G#” and rode it to the ceiling. Even her state of perma-moshing came in handy on a punk finale where the rest of Kitten — up until that point the picture of manners — finally followed their frontwoman’s lead and cut loose a little with a scuzzy, fevered onslaught of noise and reverb.

With Chaidez’s raw enthusiasm, Kitten could take over the world. They just need a gameplan first.