Bang! Bang! guitarist Jack Flash
A few years back I somewhat infamously called The Kites the worst band in Madison (unfairly actually, because even then I knew there were worse bands). After seeing them Thursday night for their CD release show at the High Noon with Digibot and Chicago's Bang! Bang!, I'm not quite ready to admit I was completely wrong, but I will say maybe I was a little harsh.
I completely adore The Kites singer Adam Schabow's other project, the gloriously goofy Shabelles, which make me ridiculously happy every time I see them. How can this band be that much different? Schabow certainly didn't understand how: "After all, I write all the songs for both bands. Sometimes I don't even know which band a song should go to."
And for the first three songs of the set, they really weren't that different. "Tonight," "Met A Girl Last Night" and "Happy Too" are also the lead-off tracks on The Kites' new, winkingly titled Self-Titled disc. They're like the Shabelles on a Red Bull bender -- faster and with more kick but just as much fun. It wasn't until the fourth song, "This Is Gonna Hurt for Awhile" from their first record, that I remembered why I'd been so callous. Admittedly, I've always been more of a pop girl than a punk girl. While Schabow's slightly nasal voice can be oddly charming in the former category, it can become mildly grating when he ventures into the latter.
Sadly, they only played one of the three versions of "Met a Girl" that appear on the disc (the last of which is a "beat poetry" version I can't wait to hear), but much of their new release made it into the set. It isn't unusual for a band to play a cover tune, but in this case the "covers" were songs by other Schabow bands. Kyle Motor requested an old Mr. Pants song, while "Free Digibot" was a product of the John Ashcroft Fan Club.
Schabow has long been a fan of the third band on the bill, Digibot, who were celebrating not only a new release, but also an anniversary. As lead screamer Mike Hess put it, "we've been torturing your asses for ten years!" It's certainly hard to ignore a band as in-your-face as Digibot can be. Their new CD is called Brutal, and judging by songs like "Global Garage" and its aggressive lyrics ("It's all about the loot, we don't give a hoot/To hell with our children, they can choke on the soot!"), it isn't a misnomer. They ended their set by all switching instruments, which demonstrated more talent than one might have initially given them credit for.
The entire night became a mutual appreciation party as both bands couldn't say enough about opener Bang! Bang! Their revved-up set of pop-punk had people standing up almost immediately, even though they said "we'll give you the first two for free." While they were talking about their own music, they might just as well been talking about the whole night when they claimed "we're going from zero to one hundred… starting now!"