Kittie and Dope @ Blender Theater at Gramercy (7/14/2008)

Nu-Metal growlers Kittie and Industrial Metal leaders Dope did a tour together and brought along a couple of interesting Metalcore acts for good measure with Across Five Aprils and A New Revolution. We got there early to be able to feature something about everyone on the stage so if you click the logo below you will be brought to our article on the main site. Photos of all the performers are there as well so dig in.

Logo - Kittie

Artist: Kittie
Venue: Blender Theater (New York, NY)
Opener: Dope, A New Revolution, Dead Men Dreaming, Across Five Aprils
Date: 7/14/2008
Label: X Of Infamy Records

I should mention that I really wasn’t the biggest fan of Kittie when I first heard them and this was largely because I was interested in other types of Metal at the time as opposed to anything featuring growling vocals. Especially when they came from a pretty girl as this just didn’t make any sense to me. Of course after catching them in concert a few times and finding myself always enjoying the evening this opinion changed and since that time I have made sure to be present as often as possible when they invade the Big Apple. Tonight’s gig would be no exception as they returned for what was labeled a “co-headlining” tour with Industrial Metal powerhouses Dope. The show would be at the Blender Theater, the former home of the Gramercy Park movie house which has been converted into almost a miniature version of the Nokia Theater that is located not too far uptown. The space seemed perfect for such a roster and it would be interesting to see how it played out here as opposed to where I had last seen Kittie in action. For the past couple of years the girls had been making stops at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill which was a nice room for them but it would be interesting to see them on a larger stage. The evening was a sweltering summer night that offered no one reprieve and with five bands to enjoy on this bill the climate inside was sure to be far hotter.

Dead Men Dreaming: These guys were a local and unsigned group that seemed to hold a lot of potential but the stage being loaded with main acts gear and having the warm up band sound issues really was taking a lot away from their set. Their singer doubles on keyboards and he was frequently running back and forth between them and the center stage microphone. They were not much along the lines of Metal as the other acts were this evening and instead more of a Power Rock outfit with some nice melodies. They had CD’s available for those interested in picking them up and after only a few songs would be done for the night. The crowd had not really assembled yet so while they were enjoyable the larger audience didn’t get to see them.

Across Five Aprils: This would be my first time ever hearing of these dudes from Victory Records and they are a Metalcore band that hails from Tennessee. They hit the stage with a very energetic presence and vibe but having limited background in them and their sound made them appear to me as just your typical “core” band. They’ve been in action since 2001 and are led by Brandon Mullins who does a good job of delivering the growling vocals and intensity. They sounded tight but I am generally hesitant with the more straight ahead Metalcore acts because I find so many of them offering up the same thing instead of being different. It’s a tricky genre and clearly one that needs more levels of difference plugged into it to move forward successfully. Either way, they performed well and seemed to be very happy to be on the bill this evening.

A New Revolution: Koch Records artists A New Revolution were of interest to me as I had been enjoying their album “Rise” very recently. They have some “core” backing elements to their sound but in the end are much more of a crushing Metal band that uses the conventional styles to a powerful effect. They played some stuff off of “Rise” but I didn’t capture the exact set list they were doing. All in all they were quite good and showed themselves as having a headlining band presence attitude. They are fronted by Joey Duenas formerly of the band Unloco and two members of Slaves On Dope. Fans of those bands that enjoy the Nu-Metal style would definitely want to sink their fangs into the new project that the members are doing and I think this particular outfit is only scratching the surface on what they are capable of. The crowd was now at its largest amount because after ANR’s rather short set it would be time for Dope. The only downside was the very clear fact that the venue was hotter than hell by this point and I was not only speaking about the temperature of the Metal but inside the place itself. Apparently one of the main air-conditioners had broken down and the remaining one was now working overtime to compensate and being brutally honest it was helping very little.

Dope: Dope is not really a Metal band per se and finds their sound delivering much more along the lines of an Industrial and Gutter Punk outfit. The elements of Metal are in there of course and the band is rather heavy based on the manner of drive in their groove. Their history was rooted and based around the aspect of drugs and the drug culture and they have had a series of lineup changes that once found Trashlight Vision’s Acey Slade and Wednesday 13’s Racci Shay as part of the group. Today they are still fronted by singer Edsel Dope who is joined by Virus (lead guitar), Angel (drums) and Tripp Tribbett (bass). Their last studio album was “American Apathy” which was their fourth endeavor together and tonight they would deliver a decent batch of tunes from it. The crowd seemed to be quite into them and the weird thing was how different the two main bands were in terms of overall sound. This led to having what appeared to be two separate audiences in the room, each wanting to hear their one main band as opposed to a full on Metal crowd who wants to see everyone. Edsel talked to the crowd quite a bit and got them geared up and jumping for certain numbers. They did a killer rendition of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” this evening which sounded really good with that Industrial Metal vibe to it. Of course the song itself was already rather heavy so it was interesting to see how it worked out once they upped the game on how heavy it could be. Edsel also thanked the fans who had been with them since the beginning and mused at how interesting their crowd has always been. There was moshing going on and he pointed out some folks in the audience who were really getting wild at it. Having never saw them before made me pay a lot of attention this evening despite the super uncomfortable room temperature.

The songs that I particularly enjoyed were “No Way Out” and “Survive” from their rather lengthy set list. As their time drew to a close Edsel announced that they were going to play the gayest song ever written and this lead the room into the bands cover of Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”. He mentioned how he was asked to cover this for a movie and how he viewed it a perhaps the biggest faggot song known to man and was amused at how people wearing Slayer shirts would still start up a mosh pit during it. I had to say that their version is rather intense but I loved it and having grown up in the time that this song first played can agree that it is rather infectious to the listener. I won’t go into any of the other specifics about it and leave the singers opinion to be his own. Their stage setup was also very dramatic and had the amps in fences with barbed wire on top of them. It was a real desolate setting and dark and bleak as well so this had a great effect on the audience visually. Once Dope finished I did notice that a decent chunk of the crowd left as well and this surprised me a little bit but perhaps the fourteen songs that Dope dished out was more than enough for them. Clearly they had their own fan base in attendance tonight that was far different from the Kittie crowd, but I never quite understand how some people can buy a ticket for a show and not stay the entire gig. Oh well, it’s their loss, not mine and Kittie was coming up next to rock the place until closing.

Kittie: The last couple of years have not been without any drama for the girls in Kittie and one of the first such events was dealing with the need to change their new imprint label of “Kiss Of Infamy” to “X Of Infamy” so they would not be confused with things that were relating to the band KISS. Come on now Gene, give your fans some credit and realize that we would have easily figured out that the two were not related. The second event was welcoming to the fold two new members in Trish Doan and Tara McLeod on bass and guitar respectively. Sadly, after one quick tour Trish would take ill and need to miss the next go round of shows and be filled in for by a member of Thine Eyes Bleed. Sadder still, she eventually would need to move on from the bands lineup so she could recover properly. I’m sure everyone who enjoyed her playing with the group wishes her the best things in life and good health. In her place we find Ivy Vujic, and what a great person for the job she seems to be. As mentioned in the earlier part of this commentary, the stage at the Blender Theater is sizeable as compared to that of B.B. King’s, but perhaps based on the four member unit just a little too big. Mercedes was way in the back on her drums while the others were closer to the front and since the girls don’t use any real stage decoration the empty space was just space. The sweltering heat in the venue had to be worse up on the stage by the time Kittie came out, but Morgan and the girls hit it like there was no tomorrow and perhaps the uncomfortable conditions made them play even harder.

Set wise they continued to focus on their last release which is “Funeral For Yesterday” and that was cool since there are a few tracks on this album that I like quite a bit. Especially the title track and “Breathe”. They always make sure to deliver a healthy amount of their older numbers for the fans who were there since the beginning and when songs like “Into The Darkness” and the medley of tracks from “Spit” came up the people in the audience were going crazy. There was some moshing going on for their part of the night but it didn’t seem to be as wild as the one which was happening during the Dope set and I think this is more based on the difference of material. The Kittie stuff is definitely Metal and has more a head banging vibe to it while the Dope stuff has that Industrialized Disco beat that will have anyone bopping whether they liked it or not. Morgan would talk to the audience periodically and she looks great as always, even though tonight she would be soaked to the bone from the heat and she thanked everyone for coming out and how happy they were to be back in NYC. The always expected and appreciated stuff from a band that seems to really be in touch with their fans. Ivy was interesting to watch as well and while I enjoyed Doan’s contributions to the lineup, she definitely was not as active as Ms. Vujic was. For the entire length of the show the new bassist was banging her head and walking right up to the edge of the stage to incite some fury out of the crowd and she also seemed to work very well with McLeod who would perform stage moves with her in tandem. Another thing I took notice of this evening was how much heavier the band seemed to be from the last time that I caught them. Good work ladies, keep it coming.

So despite the scalding temperature of the room this was a really fun show to be in attendance at. I do think that the venue risked the health and well being of the fans though by having the AC not working because the hotter the temperature is, the more drinking that gets done and some people become a-holes when they can’t handle it and these are the ones I worry about. Management really should have been giving out water tonight to keep the setting a little more tolerable and it is my hope to never have to experience the place when it is this disgusting to be in ever again. I really like the room but feel that tonight it was working against everyone involved. Make sure you catch Kittie when they return because they are doing so much of this on their own now and it is the best way to show them that you care about what they are doing.

Dope Setlist:
1. Bitch
2. Bring It On
3. Survive
4. Rebel Yell
5. No Way Out
6. Die
7. I’m Back
8. Sick
9. Burn
10. FTP
11. Motivation
12. Now Or Never/What About
13. You Spin Me
14. Violence

Kittie Setlist:
1. My Plague
2. Flower of Flesh and Blood
3. Look So Pretty
4. Oracle
5. Breathe
6. What I’ve Always Wanted
7. Mouthful Of Poison
8. Sorrow I Know
9. Into The Darkness
10. Pussysugar
11. Funeral For Yesterday
12. Spit Medley
13. Never Again

Backstage with Kittie (2008)
Backstage with Kittie (2008)

As we mention in the concert review article the venue was sweltering this evening and before Kittie made it hotter we snapped this candid of them downstairs at the Blender Theatre.  Pictured from Left to Right are Tara McLeod, Mercedes Lander, Morgan Lander and Ivy Vujic.

The Ladies of Kittie & Derrick "Tripp" Tribbett (2008)
The Ladies of Kittie & Derrick "Tripp" Tribbett (2008)

Immediately after I snapped the candid, one of the members of Dope was down there getting ready to go onstage.  We all thought it would be funny for the girls to pick him up off the ground for a cool shot and here is the lovely ladies of Kittie and Derek “Tripp” Tribbett.  “Tripp” would eventually appear on a horrendous reality show called “Daisy Of Love” that featured Daisy DeLaHoya; a finalist on Bret Michaels “Rock Of Love” romance “reality” show.   “DoL” would continue the process with Daisy now on her own quest for love and on the episodes in which Tripp appeared he went by the name “Sinister”.  He would not win the competition for Daisy’s heart and place fourth.

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