Months ago, when we heard Maxine Kauter Band were performing at The Vanguard with Gen Chadwick, Phoebe and I got pretty damn excited and booked in a business-wife-date for the night. Then, I did what I’ve done to all my wives (business or otherwise) and invited everyone else I know.
And so it was, I booked a table for 17, frocked up, put on mah pearls and trotted across the road to The Vanguard last Wednesday night.
First up was Genevieve Chadwick, who served up some of the best guitar-playing I’ve seen in a while. Meanwhile, The Vanguard served up one of the stranger vegetarian dishes I’ve eaten (vege patties on top of sweet potato risotto – strange, but oddly tasty). Gen’s high energy performances are always strong, her stomp box adding extra oomph to the singer-with-guitar combo. She was a hit with the crowd!
After Phoebe and I indulged in a dessert tasting plate (tasting plates are HEAVEN for the chronically indecisive), MKB hit the stage.
One of the lovely things about paying any attention at all to one’s local music scene is the opportunity to watch a musician you like grow and improve. This is especially nice when that musician becomes a friend. I first saw Maxine Kauter play when the lovely Kate Duffy and I supported her at The Roxbury in 2008. She was good then, but in the past four years, her sound and songwriting skill have really developed.
Seriously, this band is so damn good. All the musicians have their moments to shine and while MK leads the B, they are so tight and together, well-rehearsed and in sync that it’s clearly not a case of singer-songwriter-backed-by-some-musos. This is a four-piece act and a classy one at that.
Now, I’m no seasoned music reviewer and I am far too dorky to have enough of a handle on the indie music ‘scene’ to make clever allusions and references to other bands MKB might be like. I just know what I enjoy putting in my ears.
Maxine’s songs manage to be really clever, without feeling like she is beating you about the head with her intellect; they are often sad and wallowy, but they never stray into angsty-high-school-lesbian-rant; and several of them are damn hot, but you never get that awkward sense she is trying to be sexy. The lyrics are well-crafted, successfully avoiding cliche. Despite much of the material focusing on the singer’s internal world, you never feel like songwriting is a vanity exercise for her: she genuinely cares about the story she is leading you through.
The vocals often waiver around intonation, taking a fraction longer than you’d expect to land bang on a note, and packing in a whole lotta vibrato, lending a dreamy and slightly disconcerting quality that holds your focus and stops the music from becoming ‘easy-listening’. The vocals and Pete Holz’s electric guitar slip and slide around each other beautifully, contrasting with the sure rhythms of Shannon Haritos on bass and Stephen Beverley on drums.
Maxine stands really damn still when she sings. Like, she hardly moves at all. I find it baffling that this is even humanly possible, but there it is. She made a smart move though, and balanced her style with that of drummer, Stephen (possibly the cutest man in the world). His boundless enthusiasm for performing is completely charming and I love the interplay of Max’s voice and his energetic, almost intrusive (but never actually intrusive) drumming. One stand out moment, when he paused drumming to loosen his tie, made me question my sexuality…
On that note, I know I should be praising skill, not good looks, but seriously, can this band stop being so attractive please?
I’ll stop praising them now for fearing of boring you or making them uncomfortable. But thanks for a fabulous night, Gen & MKB.
In conclusion, they will be performing at Lady Sings it Better’s farewell gig on July 19 & 20 so you should really come… Book here. See what I did there?
If you need more convincing, here’s one of their new numbers…