Houston Music

Up Close: Gig Night With Giant Kitty

It's show night for Giant Kitty, the newly restructured unit that is now self-described as "75 percent female indie rock/punk/whatever." The band members arrive to Rudyard's separately, but all at roughly the same time, about a quarter til nine on a Friday night for a bill that's packed. They'll be sandwiched between locals Only Beast and San Antonio's Fea, which is also 75 percent female.

The band can't meet for pre-game drinks or a last-minute rehearsal because they have day jobs, so they congregate in the far reaches of Rudyard's upstairs, next to a pool table which becomes a merch table about 10 minutes after Giant Kitty arrives. They're chatting casually when we rudely interrupt, with our inquisitive questions and picture snapping and they shake hands and smile and are not entirely uncomfortable about talking about themselves. There's the nucleus of guitarist Cassandra and drummer Trinity, the holdovers from what Giant Kitty was only a few months ago. They're also very down-to-business and are excited that the new recruits will make the band even better.

We meet Glenn, the bassist who might be in five other bands or maybe 84, no one can say for sure. Well, Glenn can. He just says it's not 84. He's with a friend, Paige, who introduces herself as the "official eater of the nachos," and is exuberant in her support of the band. And, there's Miriam, the vocalist, who has the requisite sassiness a band like this would cherish from its front-and-center. I ask if this is how Giant Kitty pre-games, by kicking it at the venue before the show and she repeats "kicking it" like it's a colloquialism beyond my years. Before I hear a note, I can tell I'm gonna love this band.
Giant Kitty comes right to the foot of the stage as an audience for openers Only Beast. After all, that's what you do in this town. Bands support their friends. And besides, Only Beast's singer reminds us, "I don't know if you know, but this is a fucking rock concert." More people rise from their chairs and tables and join the audience.

Only Beast's vocalist, Danielle, shares with us that she's a giant Giant Kitty fan and that they haven't missed a beat since bringing in new members. It's only the third show for the reformed group, so there's not all that much to gauge from, we think; but, we believe Danielle because her band is pretty damn good. If she says Giant Kitty is killing it, who are we to argue?
Only Beast breaks down and Giant Kitty starts setting up and there's some tuning and sound-check stuff. Miriam unleashes a soulful and sexy chorus to "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" for her mike check. Glenn rips off the bass line to "Play That Funky Music." Cassandra — who was all business an hour ago — mike-checks by singing the theme to the 1980s TV sitcom Silver Spoons. Still haven't heard a note of music and I’m nearly ready to toss my hat into the ring for fan club presidency.

The music seals the deal. Why would you not love a band singing about Keanu Reeves over music that sounds like Concrete Blonde? How could you resist an act that brings its one cover song to the stage, and it's a P.J. Harvey tune? As part of a very small group of olds in the crowd, how could we not give ourselves over to a band with a love song called "Old People Sex"? As the set unfurls, people hit the dance floor and are actually dancing, as some onstage histrionics add to the fun. This band has heart — or, to be accurate, a heart transplant. Four chambers pumping new life into something they love.

After the set, the band agrees to meet downstairs for a chat. We all watch Fea be amazing for awhile and then trek down Rudyard’s stairwell to hear how the band formed (Cassandra wanted to form an act that sounded and felt like bands she loved, like Shonen Knife and Ramones); and the latest news (the band is re-recording some tracks already laid down with Glenn and Miriam for an album). We meet Mark White, the Spin Doctors bassist who believes in Giant Kitty so much he's agreed to manage their renewed efforts. He seems as blown away as we are by Miriam and how well she and Glenn have acclimated. We run some tape for quotes, but don’t use any because tonight is less about music news than music. It’s less about promoting efforts than recognizing the effort it takes to be a solid, working band in Houston. And, it’s about the show. Maybe Giant Kitty is 75 percent female, but they give 100 percent on show night.

Approaching shows: August 1 — Houston Underground Punk Festival #3, Acadia Bar & Grill; August 14 —  with Supergrave and Moths, Rudyard's;  September 3 — Turbojugend Bayou City Presents Deathpunk Slursdays, Rudyard's; September 18 —  with The Freakouts, BFE Rock Club. For more info, see Giant Kitty's Web page.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.