The members of Kitten surely carbo load before every show. They need it when they put so much energy into their live shows. From their manic keyboardist to the Tasmanian devil that is their lead singer, Kitten keeps your attention with every note. At times, you’ll marvel at lead singer Chloe Chaidez as she jumps around, climbs speaker stacks or rides the shoulders of accommodating audience members. Other moments Fiona, one of their backup vocalists, will attract your attention as she shimmies and shakes, or dances with Chloe like two happy school kids at recess. Bryan DeLeon, the synth player, looks like a cloud of flailing arms and hair. Much like Martin Doherty, another keyboardist from another increasingly popular band, Chvrches.
Kitten can be divided into two distinct sections: their music and their live show. The strength of their music draws you in. The just released Like a Stranger EP and previous Cut It Out EP feature strong, 80’s inspired electronic pop. Their live show cements their status as a band headed to the top.
For the crowd at Slim’s SF on this night, they started out like any crowd exposed to an unknown act. Polite. The curtain rises and the band stroll out minus Chloe. The crowd takes it all in, the opening notes of “Japanese Eyes” hit and Chloe literally tumbles onto the stage. This girl must’ve taken gymnastics because it was almost perfect. More flipping and even the most biased judge would raise that ’10’ card.
Once the full band’s on and playing, the crowd’s interest goes up. Anytime someone tumbles onstage, you’ll find yourself interested. If Obama tumbled onto his podium before every major speech, we would watch. A LOT MORE.
They hit “Cut It Out”, their first single of the old EP, next. This song blows. Away so many songs on the radio now. Not only that, it comes across really well in concert. You’re Kitten, the opening band, lots of people are here for Charli XCX (the headliner) and they don’t know your work. Break out this song, the catchy chorus comes on and people get sucked in and now, you just bought yourself a few more minutes of their attention.
After “Like a Stranger” comes “G#”. The song sounds like old Eisley and a local Oakland/ San Francisco band, Minipop. Great song, sounds good live. It’ll get you to throw your hands up in there, but no waving like you just don’t care. At this point, Kitten’s four songs in and Chloe’s talking to the audience. It’s noteworthy that she’s not even out of breath. Four songs of cardio, jumping, aerobic exercise and not even huffing and puffing. Besides gymnastics, she must have some serious spinning routine at the gym.
The between song convo ends and what’s this. “Purple Rain”? Ok, up to this point, they’re on point. “Purple Rain” is a classic, it’ll take some major skills to improve on that though. Kitten probably loves this song and wants to do their own take on it, that’s cool. It slowed things down a bit unfortunately. Also, one thing to notice, Chloe’s an awesome entertainer. When it comes to the really high notes though, she can get there, but the power still hasn’t been developed yet. It’s a bit thin.
“Doubt” and “Sugar” follow. Then, they close out with another two rockin’ songs. By this point, Chloe’s ridden on some audience shoulders, scaled up some speaker stacks and jumped off one. And she’s barefoot. Is she not afraid of tetanus? She must do a lot of barefoot running. Like the Taramuhara from Mexico. Don’t look down either. You’ll look back up and Chloe’s missing. Where go? Oh, she’s somehow made her way through the audience and dancing on some tiny counter in the middle of the club. That Chloe! *cue canned laughter*
Now, the last song is playing, the guitarist is grinding his guitar against one of the building pillars and here’s Chloe climbing the largest speaker stack. One thought comes through our collective minds. Will she jump? Where will she jump? And are these people going to be nice enough to catch her? We don’t get those answers because she doesn’t jump. She sensibly climbs back down. Next time she should jump. Would’ve looked awesome on YouTube.
Two words come to mind after watching Kitten. Energetic and joyful. Their energy will win over any crowd. Kitten fans will naturally love them. To the uninitiated, they’ll become fervent disciples once they catch a Kitten live show, spreading the word. Proof? The crowd was mobbing the merch table 7-8 deep at the end of their set, likely with quite a few new converts among them. Chloe and Fiona come out and people are clamoring for autographs and pictures. With civility of course. This is San Francisco after all.
Oh, and joyful. Watch Kitten perform and you can sense a group of musicians happy to be onstage, happy to be playing great songs and thrilled to share them with new and old fans.