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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

There aren’t supposed to be cans of Friskies next to empty beer cups on the counter at T.T.’s, because cat food does not get you drunk, and overbooking a show is generally a recipe for calamity. But the bill for the Kitty Angels benefit last Wednesday was 14 acts strong and went over like gangbusters.

When it’s for the kitties, anything is possible.

Kitty Angels — a no-kill, all volunteer shelter/adoption agency with a network spanning Western Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire — has been rescuing, and providing medical help and cozy homes for, stray cats for more than 20 years. When show organizer Steev Riccardo put out the call, he was shocked at how many bands empathized with the feline plight. And with so many penniless assholes surrendering their pets to the streets nowadays, independent animal charities are hurting for resources — so the Pinups for Pitbulls benefit happening simultaneously down the street at the Middle East wasn’t that big of a coincidence.

The acoustic portion of the evening saw solo performers busting out sentimental, affecting, road-weary folk-rock. Then there was decisively less road-weary, but equally acoustic morsels from local-notables Bo Barringer and Jen Grygiel of MEandJOANCOLLINS, and Jason Dunn of the Luxury. Over cigarettes, Dunn regaled me with anecdotes of his 14-year-old kitty buddy, Shiva. Somewhat of a pop aficionado, Shiva really dug Oasis’s third album and likes to sit on Dunn’s computer monitor while he mixes songs, quietly judging his owner’s output.

When the format switched to full, plugged-in bands, birdsmakebirds took the opportunity to demonstrate that emo needn’t suck. Then James McAndrew of Milquetoast & Co. played a set of angular, high-impact Americana. Before the New Alibis knocked me sockless with a metal/punk rendition of the Violent Femmes’ “Kiss Off,” Drew Suxx confessed to the crowd that at 3 am that morning, his cat attempted to murder his father. Happily, Suxx’s will to aid the wayward kitty populace remained undeterred.

-- Barry Thompson

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