Aside from the table topped with laptops, controllers, and a mixer, there was only one thing adorning the Sunset stage on Monday night, and that was a giant blow-up swan pool float (you can cop your own for a cool $25 over at Amazon). As experimental pop singer Kitty burned through her forty minute set, husband Sam Ray (a.k.a. Ricky Eat Acid) and touring DJ Grant, chilled on the swan, sipping on mixed beverages and watching the set from front row. Between sets, Grant played Yin Yang Twins and DMX while Sam kicked some drunk guy out of the swan. Then as Ricky Eat Acid closed out the evening, Kitty took to the swan to watch the set and tweet, much like the rest of the crowd. Maybe there's some underlying fourth-wall motif going on there about our use of technology and constant culture consumption, or maybe three friends just wanted to jump on the road together with a swan and call it a day. Either way, this tour behind new Ricky Eat Acid record Talk To You Soon and the Kickstarted debut Kitty LP was a great idea. The two make an adorable and unexpected team, and with Grant pumping out the jams with every second in between, this show was a house party for anyone in the know.
Earlier this summer, fans got the first taste of Kitty's upcoming LP with "Asari Love Song", released through Adult Swim's 2016 singles program. This is Kitty's third time contributing to the annual Adult Swim series, and with every passing year, her offerings only seem to get more infectious. In career thus far, Kitty has worn many hats, singing 80s ballads like the one above, rapping alongside Riff Raff, eulogizing Williamsburg venue 285 Kent with rave magic, and interviewing 50 Cent. But with her upcoming album, she is set to give herself a definitive pop milestone, following in the steps of pop heroes while still pushing for cutting edge and imaginative production. Until then, the live setting is absolutely the best place to witness the magic. After some beef with the soundman was squashed, Kitty's set worked effortlessly through her last few years of releases, as well as giving us a sample of the new stuff. To her disappointment, Seattle was "not very bouncy", minus a couple with perhaps a bit too much liquid courage. But by the time she wrapped up rave closer "Last Minute", the place was bouncing all over the place. Kitty laid the groundwork for a splendid evening with a solid set of material that only builds the anticipation to see what her new album will bring.
Let's talk about Grant for a second. Sure, his name wasn't on the bill tonight, but he was, without a doubt, the glue holding this whole operation together. Grant makes his own tunes, and has played shows in the past couple years with the likes of XXYYXX and Anamanaguchi, though none of them showed up in his mix tonight. Instead, Grant played one the most eclectic and obtuse sets of radio hits that anyone in the Sunset had heard all year. For the most part, it kind of felt like we were all getting a second shot at prom, with J-Kwon, T Pain, and others showing up in the mix and lighting it up like it was 2007. But later in the evening, the prom tunes became sentient. After one guy in the crowd booed Paula Cole classic "I Don't Want To Wait", Grant crossed the stage to argue the strengths of the song before putting a few more nails in the coffin with Alanis Morisette and Sugar Ray before returning to party territory with Chris Brown. If that doesn't tell you something of the flavor of the evening, I don't know what will. Grant made the extensive stage turn-around fly by in highly provocative ways.
On Talk To You Soon, Ricky Eat Acid provides us with his most intentional and definitive follow to Three Love Songs. There were a couple EPs and mixtapes in the middle there, along with a couple releases from his Baltimore band Teen Suicide, but when it comes down to it, Talk To You Soon is just the kind of record you would want Sam Ray to tour behind. With its inspired Dntel-esque moments and spastic juxtapositions, it's the kind of eclectic real-time reflection record that you want to see brought to a single time and space. With this tour, Ray gives us that opportunity, crouched over a science experiment of a controller setup, moving between knobs and keys and faders with cool and precision. Watching Sam put all the pieces together on songs like "'Hey'" and "On The Floor Beneath The Cross" only serves to make them more dizzying. The whirlwind of compressed sound coming out of the Sunset speakers barely does justice to the action happening onstage. And yet, as every number fades, Ray barely makes eye contact with the crowd, readying the next tune, letting the noise die to kick off another trial in assembly. Closing the night out, Sam turns the pop extroversion of Kitty and the bass-heavy party rhythms of Grant both on their head. And yet, it somehow seems fitting. Just another day in the life of three friends making completely different music and venturing forth into the unknown with a mixer in hand. It's this kind of DIY optimism that makes the world go round.
Ricky Eat Acid:
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