While revelers at Sasquatch danced the night away to The National on Saturday night, back in Seattle at The Crocodile Kithkin took to the serious business of drawing the battle lines of the coming apocalypse.
Kithkin, self-described “tree punks,” were on hand to celebrate the release of their debut album, “Rituals, Trances & Ecstasies for Humans in the Face of The Collapse.” It’s an album full of kinetic energy, comforting pop-tinged hooks and stories about the struggle to keep moving forward in an increasingly screwed up world.
There’s a level of calculation on the album that Kithkin shed in their manic set of youthful energy and riotous, cathartic release. The dual-drum attack of “Fallen Giants” announced the energy the band of local recent college grads was intent on bringing, and it gave a welcome punk-rock edge to the anthemic folk-rock sound that has become dominant. (It makes sense, given that Kithkin worked with The Head and the Heart producer Shawn Simmons ).
By the time Kithkin hit “Dying Season,” full of bluesy hell fire, it was clear that while the band knew how to deliver a satisfying hook, there were larger things at stake. Angry and jarring, it was the first song that truly conjured images of what “The Collapse” might feel like.
As they often did, Kithkin brought immediate balance by launching into the joyous “Asunder,” which balanced a whimsical melodic hook against the downward force of tribal drum beats.
Not everything worked so well. The middle of the set bogged down as a long instrumental intro to one song sapped the set of energy, while “Fire Mumblers” was a vortex of noise that made the compelling melody difficult to distinguish.
Still, the band finished strong with “Sorcerer,” which also closes their album. The plodding denouement offered one last bit of cathartic howling and allowed for the hope that even if the end is coming, at least it’ll sound good.
Kithkin started late at around 11:50, which might account for the fact that more people were there for Master Musicians of Bukkake, who are not easily categorized but sounded like Satanic New Age. It was unnerving performance art and while the crowd might not have known what to make of them, the Master Musicians were easily just as compelling as Kithkin.
Some bands are simply weird for the sake of being weird, but the deliberate, slow moves of the masked lead singer gave the performance an oddly ceremonial feeling. I couldn’t tell if we were supposed to be praying or perhaps preparing for indoctrination.
While I enjoyed Kithkin immensely, the indelible moment belongs to the band with the bog monster for a lead singer.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails