with Catfight! and Pretty Vacant

The Star Bar, Atlanta, GA • November 3, 2000

“The overrated sound of silence at last.” A true understatement, spoken by the lead singer of Pretty Vacant at the end of his set. At popular Atlanta punk-pop band 6x’s record release party, silence was nowhere near to be heard. Add Catfight! to the party, mix in cheap PBR for the patrons, and eardrums were bleeding.

Pretty Vacant opened the show with their run down of Sex Pistols covers. Starting with “Holidays in the Sun,” the foursome put on quite a decent imitation of Johnny Rotten and the boys, complete with spits and insults. Beer bottles shaken and sprayed into the audience were returned in kind by this tough Star Bar crowd. Whether the British accents were fake or authentic was not clear, but the full house appreciated the visit with the old punk classics.

The all-girl trio Catfight! followed, wary of all the spit on the stage. The girls all looked mighty cute in their matching shirts and leather jackets. Like 6x, they also announced the release of a new album, entitled Frustrated. They opened with “Panic,” and followed with the title track. Catfight!’s sound is a lot like 6x’s: pop melodies with a touch of bitter attitude. Their performance was pretty low-key. Guitarist Jen quipped sarcastic remarks through the set, as Katy on bass and Ann on drums kept moving with the rapid punk beat. The girls got a little teary-eyed when Jen announced that Ann was leaving the band. A group hug became comical, as they knocked over cymbals to wish her good luck with her future marriage. Their songs were catchy, simple punk tunes, but the girls were just too laid back. It would have been nice to see Catfight! live up to their name.

But the capacity crowd wasn’t there for violent, hardcore punk rock. This was more like your weekend punk crowd, out to have a good time with their circle of friends after a hard day of work in the cubicle. 6x has released their second album, Thunder Bomb, and their shows are always fun to see.

The party moved into full swing when Lara Kiang, Rob Gal, Kevin Rej, and Tim Johnston walked on stage and started to play. Bassist Kevin Rej was decked out in his best leopard skin pimp attire, proving that they aren’t ones to take themselves too seriously. Their set was fifty-fifty new and old material. The songs of Thunder Bomb sound similar to those on Kung-Pow!, so they mixed in well and the energy was high. While Kevin let the ladies in the front row feel his furry pants, Lara belted out “Bowling Baby” with a ’60s girl band sound. Guitarist Rob Gal took over the singing for “I Feel Better,” keeping the good vibes going. They played “Ask Me About Love” from the new CD before rocking on with “Rock Out.” The crowd was definitely in a party mood, thanks to the atmosphere generated by all the bands. People in the audience started sprouting Puddin stickers and everyone looked like they knew everyone else. Even when the drunken lead singer from Pretty Vacant returned to belt Rej in the stomach with a beer can, that became part of the fun. “He hit me in my uterus!” Kevin screamed. Then I heard Lara shout to “start up Smokey Joe.” Smokey Joe? Oh, a smoke machine. Working almost too good, the Star Bar filled with artificial smoke as singer John Cerreta took the stage dressed in a pompadour wig and ascot to sing a droll version of “How Soon is Now?” and closed with the band backing him up on “I Dig Chicks.”

The party was over, and the smoke had cleared. The crowd dispersed, and I watched Rob Gal breathe a sigh of relief as he finished wiping the sweat from his face. Good thing record releases don’t happen with every show.

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