Kithkin Live @ Chop Suey w/Bod & Vox Mod
September 3, 2015
By Frida Ray
Saying Goodbye to Kithkin was just as wonderful and difficult as I thought it would be.
I arrived outside of Chop Suey an hour before doors to stand in line with a mass of huddled twenty-somethings: They were wearing shorts and t-shirts on the first cool, damp day we’d had in Seattle all summer.
Sitting at the bar, I ordered Vodka Mules for my date and I as the venue began to fill with kids between the ages of 16-20, smashing themselves near the stage in an anxious swarm. There were carloads of teens from Bellingham reminiscing about a recent show at the Bellingham all-ages venue, MakeShift, that literally brought tears to my eyes. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a group of teens speaking with such conviction for a musical act.
One of the benefits of arriving early is discovering new bands. Openers Bod had a fun, relaxed stage presence and a Ween-esque vibe that’s heavy on the psychedelia with a touch of Animal Collective.
Flyers had indicated a ‘Special Guest’ would join the night’s festivities and to my absolute delight VOX MOD took the stage after Bod, quickly taking control of the near-capacity crowd. The updated sound system at Chop Suey was perfect for the performer’s pulsating and inventive techno. The hand rails shook with every throb as the DJ’s hands danced in waves between every turn and twist of a nob. After several songs, he stopped to thank Kithkin for including him in such a momentous event. The crowd roared and cheered into the beginning of his next track. I decided right then and there that more shows should have special guests.
When Kithkin took the stage, Chop Suey had been sold out for nearly an hour. It was packed with festival organizers, local media and a veritable “who’s who” of the Seattle music scene. A banner hung at the back of the stage made out of a white sheet with handwritten “thank you’s” and “goodbyes,” including the hashtag #KithkinEnd: The first true sign that we had been summoned for a ritual. The music started and, with it, a thunderous series of cheers and roars.
Within moments, crowd surfing commenced and lasted for the entirety of their explosive set. Drummer and lead vocalist Ian McCutcheon and bassist Kelton Sears were like possessed preachers ministering to their followers from the first drum beat. It wasn’t long until Kelton had removed his shirt, signaling to the crowd that things just got tremendously real.
Soon after his modest disrobe, Sears was swinging from the ramparts of Chop Suey. Even the seasoned musicians in the room began to scream with excitement. Bob Martin on keys and Alex Barr on guitar both maintained their cool, godlike demeanor through the entire spectacle, which only added a balanced perfection to each moment.
Hundreds of hands in the air supported Sears as he leaped into the crowd, bass clutched tightly, never dropping a note. Three other members of Kithkin followed suit throughout the evening, surfing effortlessly over eager participants. The humidity inside the venue reached sweat lodge proportions with bodies heaving up in great leaps and swaying in tandem. Kids were painting their faces with Kithkin symbology as they danced. It was a wild reverie that would make Burning Man blush. And the music never faltered.
The encore forced us to come to grips with finality. Following the last song, Ian thanked us for coming to celebrate the end and reminded us to watch for new beginnings. The band members held an obviously emotional embrace before leaving the stage. I left knowing I had just witnessed a night akin to a revivalist church gathering but with a far better message: music matters.
In case you were unfortunate enough to see Kithkin during the band’s tenure, here’s a taste: