It seems like Philadelphia ska band, Catbite is everywhere these days. This past year has seen them on tour with the likes of Streetlight Manifesto, Jeff Rosenstock, Mustard Plug, Anti-Flag, and Screaming Females to name a few. And topping it all off with a cherry on top, they embarked on their first ever mini headlining tour a week or so ago which has had them playing in hometown Philadelphia, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the show which I was able to catch in Brooklyn at Saint Vitus. (Oh yeah, remember last month when Brittany Luna guest appeared at Gaslight Anthem?)
Saint Vitus was the first time they’d played NYC as a headliner and Brit, Tim Hildebrand, Ben Parry, Esteban Flores, and Chris Pires were beyond stoked as they opened up the set with fan favorite, “Creepin” from last year’s spectacular LP, Nice One. This fast-paced “on the upbeat” ripper is one of that classic kind of ska songs that wouldn’t at all be out of place if it were slipped into a mix with songs off the first The Specials album. Its frenetic pace had the packed room at Saint Vitus in full-blown skankin’ mode right off the bat. From here the band rolled right into their cover version of Neon Trees’ “Everyone Talks” which the band released earlier this year as part of a 4 song split with Mike Park of Asian Man Records (to name just one of his countless accomplishments). Obviously where the Trees start off their original with a sort of late 50’s R&B crooner style before they kick into its indie rock sing-along chorus, tonight Catbite started off with a slow rock steady beat before literally kicking into the chorus which they re-imagined into a total ska romp.
With barely any time between songs to catch their breath, the band stomped from one song to the next, culling a set list comprising the most upbeat and raucous of their material from their two full-length LPs (Nice One as well as their eponymous debut). Needless to say, the crowd at Saint Vitus which had come to skank, pogo and mosh like their lives depended on it were handed the perfect soundtrack to do just that. Things would get seriously crazed throughout the hot and sweaty room for all-out R-O-C-K-E-R-S like “Asinine Aesthetic” and “Amphetamine Delight”.
But who would have guessed that things could get even hotter as the crew kicked off the encore with “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and “Excuse Me Miss” from Nice One. By this time the band had the crowd full-blown out of control dancing and singing maniacally. All in all, it was truly something to behold. Fortunately, Catbite has no intentions of slowing down in the near future and I know that I’ll be skanking along to them in a couple of weeks when they’re scheduled to open for Bouncing Souls in both Brooklyn at Brooklyn Made as well as everyone’s favorite New Jersey joint, Crossroads in Garwood, NJ. (Both shows at Crossroads are sold out but there are still tickets available for the Brooklyn Made gig).
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the night’s two opening bands. Starting off the evening was a band out of Philadelphia that I was not at all familiar with prior to this evening called Riverby. I’m not sure what they’re putting in the water down in the City of Brotherly Love but damn, Philly keeps spitting out really interesting new bands almost as fast as they produce ill-behaved sports fans (sorry, I just couldn’t resist). Lead singer, August Greenberg, possesses quite an engaging stage presence as she led the band through a breakneck-paced set which at times reminded me of the band Heart on amphetamines. All in all, I did enjoy their rough and ragged set and do think that they could be a band to keep your eyes on in the future.
Next up was the band Bacchae out of Washington DC. I’d seen Bacchae a couple of months ago opening for The Linda Lindas and to be honest wasn’t all that impressed. Friday night at Saint Vitus however, changed my mind. The growth shown by the band in a few short months was truly inspiring. With a sound that brings to mind early B-52s crossed with the No Wave sound of downtown NYC circa early 80’s with bands like Bush Tetras, Liquid Liquid and quite noticeably early Sonic Youth was quite invigorating. Both Katie McD (lead vocals and keyboard) as well as Rena Hagins (bass and backup vocals) have grown tremendously in their stage presence and ultimately put on a fantastic set.
Check out full photo galleries from each of the bands below!