Electric Six at The Casbah
Featuring Kitten and Mark Mallman
Despite being the holy day of rest for some, it was a packed house on Sunday night at The Casbah. Detroit based Electric Six have been on tour in support of their eighth studio album, Heartbeat and Brainwaves. Accompanying them on tour was piano playing funny man, Mark Mallman, and fresh-faced rockers, Kitten.
Minneapolis’ Mark Mallman opened up the night resembling what you might imagine a mid-30’s Poindexter from Revenge of the Nerds would look like. He took the stage wearing wayfarers and a studded denim jacket that read “Mr. Serious,” airbrushed across the back. He immediately jokingly made a comment about being a “warm-up” act, though he did have a small group of fans that were there to see him, dancing and singing along.
He whipped through his set with witty banter between songs and was backed by a live drummer and prerecorded guitar and bass. He was a perfect cross between Liberace and Har Mar Superstar, complete with wardrobe changes, spins, kicks, and piano straddling innuendo. He narrated some of his songs like musical theatre, and at one point shouted “I went to church in the morning, and my sins were cleared so I could sin again that night!”
The average age of Los Angeles five-piece Kitten doesn’t quite break 20 years just yet. All but one member had to wait outside of the club until they played. The band looked really young, but sixteen-year-old singer, Chloe Chaidez who’s been performing since age 10, took the cake as the youngest person on stage. She takes her high school classes online, and travels with her grandmother, who also does merch at the shows. Chloe tends to be the focus of attention because of her age and energetic stage presence (she hops around nonstop, beats the crap out of herself with the tambourine, and head-bangs harder than Cliff Burton.)
She’s got a power to her vocals reminiscent of Karen O, and at times a broken tenderness much like Chan Marshall. Her lyrics are mature beyond her years. Kitten isn’t a novelty act, or just singer with accompaniment; they are a rock solid and very talented band. Their songs are a mix of new wave pop sense, and dark driving post punk. They played second on the bill and pumped out their songs with no filler, one song after another. Though it might be considered a ballsy move to open with a cover, and even ballsier to cover Joy Division, they did just that. They wasted no time before adding themselves to the list of hundreds of bands that have covered Joy Division and ripped into “Transmission.”
Refreshingly, their cover was more of an interpretation than a tribute. They did a good job of owning the song and making it their own. The same can be said about their pumped up version of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” which they played later in their set.. After they played, a group of girls shouted at the drummer, “How old are you?” When he replied, “18,” one of the girls shouted back, “I want to teach you things!”
The Electric Six was originally called The Wild Bunch when they formed in 1996; right around the time Chloe Chaidez was being born. Eight albums later, the Detroit rockers made their tenth appearance at the Casbah. Singer, songwriter, and founding member Tyler Spencer, (aka Dick Valentine) is more than twice as old as the oldest member of Kitten. He came out wearing a smirk that never came off and dark striped coat and a bright red crush velvet shirt.
The Electric Six swaggered through their set while half of their members never took their sunglasses off. Their French-Canadian guitarist looked like a 70’s porn star with his aviator shades, a gut buster Western button up, chest hair out, and a giant eagle belt buckle. He casually busted out tasty guitar licks with a wide open stance, chewing gum, like it was just another Sunday stroll. They had absolutely no concern for the Sabbath. They put in work while playing a song about “The ecstasy of accepting Satan as your master.” In addition to Spencer’s rough gravelly vocals, his charmingly casual demeanor and dry wit was in contrast to very big Detroit-rock sound that they pull of so well. I’ve never seen white people shake so much ass.
Of course, there was no way that the Electric Six would be let out of the venue alive without playing the crowd pleasers. They did not disappoint and played two of their three top 40 (in the UK) hits. The crowd exploded when they played “Danger, High Voltage!,” even though it was performed sans Jack White’s (alleged) back-up vocals and that sexy saxophone accompaniment. “Gay Bar” and “Gay Bar 2” were both played. The third of their 2003 chart toppers, “Dance Commander” was sadly left out. Their set was an eclectic mix that ranged from funk and disco to country western. They even made a tongue in cheek allusion to politics with a reference to the 99% and the Occupy protests before playing "Clusterfuck."
The Electric Six owned the crowd all night and began their last song of the show with a parting message, “Everyone here is going to die someday, but with the Electric Six, you don’t have to feel it.”