Cat Fight! At Mercy Lounge
- Article by: Jamie McCormick, Photos by: Jamie McCormick
- Posted: 06/02/2011
The flyer for Cat Fight! at Mercy Lounge suggested there would be a vicious battle between Nashville's best vixen-fronted bands, a night with claws abounding, mudwrestling and girl fights. To my chagrin, however, none of these things happened.
As event organizer Mia Calderon of the band Sol Pistolero told me with a laugh, “The idea was to give them really high hopes then disappoint them because that's what Cat Fight's all about!” And while no one needed a Band-Aid, the night was chock full of great rock and greater performances as five modern troubadarlings romped across stage.
Starting off the night, the newly Nashville-ized Toronto-based band The Vicious Guns succeeded in their post as openers, getting the fairly listless crowd moving and in the mood for rocking. The husband and wife former duo have recently picked up a bassist and the drummer from Kink Ador, filling out their sound as well as they filled the stage itself.
The Vicious Guns have a vintage vibe, from their music to their style, and lead vocalist and guitarist Jennie Vicious grooved right along, tangoing with the mic stand and miming a phone call on her high heels. Post-punk guitars joined a healthy dose of synthetic drums and samples for a psychedelic musical excursion. Though the energy level started low—she had to chide the crowd that “they clap better in Canada”—by the end of the set, the crowd was grooving, too.
Longtime favorites Kink Ador took the helm next, transporting the audience to a whole new realm. Complete with dramatic pauses, costume changes and a languorous dream sequence somewhere in the middle, the set unfolded like a living movie—the kind that would make your desert island list. Lead vocalist, guitarist and trumpeter Sharon Koltick gave a dramatic monologue, “educating” the crowd about the meaning behind one song. Her reasoning behind the longwinded explanation: “Knowledge is power, and power is sexy.”
Koltick told me, “At the end of the day, we want to take your troubles away for that little bit that we're together, put some positive energy into your life. We want everybody in that room to just be there with us in that moment and just really have that vacation.” And it would seem that the crowd enjoyed their getaway, singing along with the last song, which included a bouncy, chant-worthy hook created for audience participation. Even after the final note ceased to ring, the crowd continued to sing that hook to the beat of the house music.
After the credits finished rolling, Latin-inflected group Sol Pistolero took over, bringing in powerful vocals and a subtle but dance-demanding beat. As Calderon sashayed around the stage, using the mic stand as a dance partner for the second time of the night, the boys behind her kept the rock simple—solid riffs, playful bass lines and creative drumming that allowed Calderon's striking voice to shine. Their well-known formula, spiced up with a hint of Latin heat, left no room to questionin the value of tradition.
But tradition went out the window with Kat Smo. Her unconventional pounding rhythms, both vocally and on piano, run in the same vein as the catchiest of hip-hop tunes and the most memorable rock anthems. Over time, her sound has oscillated from highly manipulated to completely raw, but this set struck upon a happy medium that incorporated the best of both worlds.
Hooky like 50 Cent, vocally spectacular and playful like Adele and pulsing like Green Day, Kat Smo has found a unique sound and has learned to exploit it to the fullest, backing an incomparable style with the sort of deep and insightful writing that seems frightfully scarce in pop rock. But that style certainly made her a hot commodity to the crowd at Mercy.
Though the herd had thinned, presumably headed for bed, by the time The Worsties found their way into the fray, the night's second husband and wife-fronted band had enough energy stored away to compensate the late nighters for their sleep deprivation. The audience may well have been running on musicians' time. It was rock o'clock and everyone heard the chime.
Marching like a master general in a whole different type of band, Anna Worstell stomped around the stage, counting time with the mic stand over her head and climbing literally everything—not just the tried and true speakers and amps, but the drums and the columns as well. Her antics made me believe bassist Jairo Ruiz's claims that they “have probably the best time of any band that travels together.”
“We're the highest functioning dysfunctional family you've ever seen,” Anna Worstell said. “We play dirty mad libs on the road.” And you can see that fun-seeking, crazy dynamic in their onstage interactions as well.
When Anna called out the final song title, the crowd screamed so mightily that I thought perhaps she had just announced that we were all getting new cars. Amped up by the musical surcharge, The Worsties made the night feel young, despite the clock registering in at 1:30 a.m. on a weekday. They left their audience wanting more of them instead of more sleep.
This bevy of Nashville dames displayed everything essential to a killer rock show, with the help of almost exclusively boy musicians behind them, and everyone remained friends at the end. Playing with the social conceptions of competition between women and the rock conceptions of female-fronted bands, the night was an all-out rock fest where Joan Jett met Jewel, and the music grew richer for the lack of diversity. This year's show upped the ante from last year, so maybe next year we will actually see some hair pulling.
To see more of Jamie's photography, or to inquire about booking, visit www.seriesofstills.com