KatJonBand/ Dollar Store; September 23, 2008; The Frequency
As anyone who has been with me for awhile knows, I am a fan of all things Jon Langford. He doesn’t even have to sing, I could listen to him read the phone book in that amazing, melting Welsh accent of his. For some reason he feels the need to disguise how prolific he is- recording and performing in a variety of bands under a variety of names, the timeless Mekons, The Waco Brothers, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Ship & Pilot, Skull Orchard, and the Three Johns. I don’t profess to be any sort of Langford expert, but I’d never even heard of the KatJonBand before Michelle spotted his distinctive image on a poster at the Frequency.
As you might have guessed, the band is a collaboration between Langford (on vocals and guitar) and Kat Ex from the band The Ex (on drums and vocals). Though they have known each other for many years, the duo has just released their debut recording after playing together for the first time in 2004. The story goes that The Ex had promised to serve as Langford’s backing band at a show in Amsterdam, but had forgotten their commitment when he arrived. Since they didn’t know the songs, Kat was nominated to back him. It was a hit and they started recording together whenever they were on the same continent.
Live the show is as much a partnership as the name would imply, with Kat taking lead vocals on at least half the tracks. It’s unusual to see a Langford project that doesn’t include Sally Timms’ gorgeous coo, Kat had her sass but not her attitude (don’t get me wrong, Timms’ spitfire temper is part of her charm, but honestly, she scares the hell out of me). I hadn’t heard the record so all of the songs were new to me. I admit I missed his usual tunes, especially the witty critique of the music industry “Nashville Radio,” but at the end of the night it was still Langford and that amazing voice.
Openers Dollar Store must have decided that the full band would overpower the act following them and pared down to a duo for this show (I’m probably supposed to make a fifty cent joke here, but I’ll leave it at that). Lead singer Dean Schlabowske and drummer Joe Camarillo plowed through the Dollar Store catalog as effectively as the full band could have, and included their cover of the Soft Boys “I Wanna Destroy You” on the way, always my favorite part of their set. Truth be told, I’m not much of a Dollar Store fan, Deano’s voice grates on me after a few songs, and without super cool Brit Alan Doughty on bass there really wasn’t much to keep my attention. At least there was Langford to look forward to.