Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Katie Elevitch at Rehab, NYC 8/13/08

OK, let’s get the joke out of the way: it didn’t appear that drugs were much if any factor in the lives of anybody in the club. It was the band onstage that was the drug. This had to be one of the two or three best shows of the year so far. The audience didn’t know how to react. A song would finish and people would just sit there stunned before breaking out into applause. It’s not often you get hit by a gale force like flame-haired siren Katie Elevitch and her killer backing band, playing mostly new material from her forthcoming album Kindling for the Fire. Finally, when she sent the band offstage while she did a song solo on acoustic, a lot of nervous chatter broke out, as if to say, where were we before my brain got hijacked? 


The obvious comparison is Persian-American rocker Haale. Both artists have a casual, charismatic intensity, a thing for hypnotic grooves and long winding crescendos and sing with an unleashed passion. Elevitch’s powerful contralto reminds of peak-era Siouxsie Sioux, although she sings on key and has vastly more range. Throughout her set, the band would lay down a vamp and she’d sail over it, wailing and belting to the point where she’d go off-mic and still be audible over the guitars. Backed by a rhythm section including Groove Collective pulsemaster Jonathan Maron on bass, effortlessly slamming out big, boomy chords when he wasn’t toying expertly with the melody, and Riley McMahon playing fiery lead guitar (and keys on one song), Elevitch was a force of nature. Soul music may be her original stepping-off point, but this show rocked, hard. “This is my soul,” she warned, “It may not be beautiful.” Ironically, there was a lot of beauty in what she played, albeit tempestuous and frequently pitch-black.


Elevitch opened with a couple of slow, slinky, sinuous numbers and then picked up the pace with a catchy, riff-driven Patti Smith-style powerpop hit. The best song of the night was the gleefully macabre title track to the forthcoming cd, a nightmarish, apocalyptic vision set to a slowly murderous, slide guitar-driven melody evocative of the darkest tracks on Siouxsie’s Join Hands. Another long, hypnotic number swung along over the repetitive phrase “hurting people, hurting people” – this is not music for the faint of heart. McMahon ended the show ostentatiously by leaving the stage and going out into the audience, his guitar cord trailing behind him, mischievously turning the volume up and down as his amp continued to feed back. Yet further proof that the many of the best bands in New York are hidden away in the small clubs, a bright future in front of them. Fans of the darkest and most fearless: PJ Harvey, Randi Russo et. al. will love this stuff.

August 14, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews


  1. wow – so sorry to have missed this show!! sounds like a fantastic performance. can’t wait to hear the record. thanks for highlighting someone that is surely going to be making a big splash here in NYC.

    Comment by megan | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. The show was amazing! want to hear more and more of KT

    Comment by Tal | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  3. Katie –

    I can’t wait to see your next show in Nyack…keep on Rockin’

    You are awesome!


    Comment by Martha Woodhouse | August 14, 2008 | Reply

  4. Wow. Awesome review. Awesome performer!

    Comment by fran farber | August 15, 2008 | Reply

  5. Riley is the man!!! Lovely person, musician and producer with a brain.

    Comment by Anon | August 17, 2008 | Reply

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