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KaitO Upstairs At the Garage, 2nd November 2001

Kitten seems to have spent a large slice of this year ensconced in the rickety room that is Upstairs At The Garage listening to the delirious skronkings of 101 scampering bands. Tonight is no exception, the luvverly Silver Rocket club (enticing punters in with a poster promising playlist delights such as Trail Of Dead yeahh!) has put on KaitO for our delectation.

I've been meaning to write about KaitO (gotta love that big 'O') for ages, ever since I first had my fillings rattled by them supporting fellow Fierce Panda fizzers Seafood at the Garage (downstairs) last year. Their mentalist squeaky wibblings and nutter guitar squooglings cheered me mightily, and this has continued to be the case every time I've stumbled across them since.

The fact that KaitO hail from the Norwich area, a city well-known to Kitten in her formative gig-going years, endears them to me further as well as going some way to explaining the selection of demented noises emanating from the band. You'd make those noises too if you came from those parts.

The band is a motley collection of scuff-shoed urchins, led by stripey-tied Nikki on guitar and vocals that are sweet with a razor edge, covering a range of 'ch,ch, sh,sh, wheeee!' noises. Also rocking the school tie look is flailing floppy haired drummer Dieta. Then there's Gemma on bass looking inscrutable behind a poker straight fringe, immersed in a big cagoule (prompting cries of 'Get yer coat off!'), skirt and (just to be on the safe side) trousers. Finally there's Dave on out-and-out bonkers skree krow squeeegle guitar and other assorted fruit loopy sounds. Together they're Elastica if Elastica had remembered to be good and hadn't been stifled by studied cool, or heroin habits. And with a big bag of joyous mental squiff bits.

scuff-shoed urchins
KaitO's genius is in their selection box of silly sounds, layering their buzzing, tooth-rattling pop with space invaders guitar and seven shades of whizz-pop cacophony extracted from their secret arsenal of noisy things. These noisy things include Nikki's whistley box, a mysterious electronic box with a sort of whistle attached on a wire. Or something. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this odd instrument, but Kitten prefers not to know it. Some things are more fun when you don't know how they work. Afterwards, surveying the leftovers scattered across the tiny stage, I also spot a plastic raygun (shades of the late, great Urusei Yatsura?) as utilised by Dave during the final rampaging song. There are various other curious objects employed by the band which get whipped up into the maelstrom of sound, although sometimes they manage to make just two guitars sound like a fairground whirling at full-tilt.
whistley box
The songs are effervescent squonky pop treasures, starting with 'Thwipside' and Nikki, menacingly sweet, singing, 'Listen to me, Listen to me…' like your unhinged younger sister. Then there's Kitten fave 'Bow Wow' which goes 'When I see you smiling…' and has the same deranged Magic Roundabout lilt as The Primitives 'Thru The Flowers' (original fuzzed up version). The joyful way they trip helter skelter through their tunes is contagious, their ramshackle recklessness held together by a firm grip on all the doolally noises so that none of it seems like it's just been chucked into the song for a laugh. All the squiffy bits play a part in making the songs so insanely infectious.
Not too sure where they got their name from, but it always reminds me of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau and his trusty martial arts partner leaping out on him at inopportune moments, 'Not NOW KaitO!'
Oh go on then.
squiffy bits
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