While I didn't make it out to many shows this year, mysterious special guest star The Paper sure did. I'm proud to highlight the ten shows of 2016 that made his list of favorite shows.
There are few pleasures in life greater than discovering a new favorite band. This is especially true when the band is Kittyhawk. Like the hundreds of the bands I saw this year, I knew nothing about the four piece from Chicago going into the show. Unlike them, it was love even before a single note was played. The sound guy had inquired about balance among the various instruments to which Kate replied with "me me me." Then she proceeded to repeat that refrain a few more times in checking the level in her monitor. Her unabashed diction was immensely refreshing. All of which foreshadowed my continued and dramatic fall into love.
There's a magical property about Kate's voice that transcends language and logic and even love. It's the perfect harmony of dreamy warmth, capable and endearing. Every syllable that appears to start deep down in her stomach and then rises through the lungs and floats out of her mouth overflows with palpable emotion. There is singing and then there's communicating. I really felt she was standing before me, talking, whispering, purring, gasping, pleading, and every other enunciation that feelings may produce. Sometimes there's a yearning in her voice, other times a hopeful quality but it was always emo. Kate was literally breathmaking infusing each breath with art.
The band is really good too. Guitar fuzzy like yours truly's favorite music blog coupled with longing keyboard and supportive drums were delightful in a kind of forlorn grace and hypnotic in bittersweet regret.
I am still kicking myself for discovering Kate and company so late. I have looked up flights to Chicago because my heartache grows each passing day that I don't see them. Researching the band afterwards reveals, somewhat unsurprisingly, that Kate actually interviewed a band that dear readers will find later on my top ten. Finally, I also want to personally thank Kate for her kind generosity with merch.
This has been a great year of live music. After 120 shows and over 430 bands, I reflect upon my top ten even though top 50 would have been much easier.
[words and photo of Kittyhawk by The Paper]