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Paw & Chainsaw Kittens: Earplugs Mandatory
By William Brents
If there was ever a show where earplugs should have been mandatory, the May 14 show at the Phoenix Hill Tavern featuring Green Apple Quick Step, Chainsaw Kittens and Paw was unquestionably it.
Actually, the opening band Green Apple Quick Step, who's very capable of sending out disorienting decibels themselves, settled instead on a slower, slinky pace which featured the lead singer's flexible vocals and hilarious candor. He methodically roamed the stage with Rolling Rock in hand, singing seemingly whatever popped into his hell-for-leather mindset. It could have turned into a full-bore musical mess but somehow between solid originals and clever covers Green Apple Quick Step pulled it off.
I wish I could say the same for the Chainsaw Kittens. Despite a sterling opening solo tune by vocalist/guitarist Tyson Meade, the Kittens seemed out of sorts. I'm sure their hard-edge melodic sound comes through on record but in a live setting, at least on this night, their erratic bone-jarring noise was just that. Meade's thin vocals were simply overwhelmed by the fierce racket; even his arched-back, screamfest-posing best was in vain. Forty minutes into the set it was over. The Chainsaw Kittens had had enough and the feeling was mutual.
A&M recording artists Paw fared much better. Paw's loud and thick guitar rock inspired a mini mosh pit, complete with down bodies and flying beer.
Guitarist Grant Fitch, drummer Peter Fitch and bassist Charles Bryan kept adding fuel to the pit fire with every urgent, muscular tune.
Paw cannot merely be passed off as another gritty, riff-happy, underdog band. "Jessie," the band's first single from their "1993" LP Dragline, proves it. "Jessie" sums up Paw's sound, a mixture of lyric yearning and power guitar. Singer Mark Hennessy's red-faced bellowing was tough and tuneful even though his style became a bit tedious after about eight songs or so.
I think it's safe to say that Paw's first Louisville visit was rowdy, raucous and, for those who left with covered ears, real!