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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Local Music Spotlight: Itchy Kitty is invited to tour with Built to Spill

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 14, 2021

Mike Tschirgi, Ami Elston, Naomi Eisenbrey and Catman are Itchy Kitty.  (Alicia Hauff)
Mike Tschirgi, Ami Elston, Naomi Eisenbrey and Catman are Itchy Kitty. (Alicia Hauff)
By Julien A. Luebbers For The Spokesman-Review

Fresh off a triumphant show at Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Itchy Kitty just can’t get enough live music. This past week, the group announced that they had been invited to accompany Boise-based indie rock icons Built to Spill on a large leg of their 2022 tour of the West Coast.

It’s a huge opportunity for the band to reach new audiences and bring a bit of Spokane to some of the country’s most historied stages. “It’s pretty new news for us,” bassist and vocalist Naomi Eisenbrey said. “We’re really excited. It’s a great opportunity, and we’re super, super stoked to be a part of it.”

If you’re not already familiar with Itchy Kitty, then jump on a computer and give them a Google. The four-piece group comprised of Eisenbrey, vocalist and guitarist Ami Elston, drummer Mike Tschirgi and the mysterious guitarist Catman play a generally unclassifiable offspring of punk.

“I think that we’ve never really fit correctly into a specific set genre or subgenre,” Eisenbrey said. “I think we’ve made our own sound at this point, and that’s something we’re definitely really proud of.”

But if one had to describe Itchy Kitty’s music? The band had plenty of explosive adjectives: “Uneasy listening, neurotic rock,” Catman proposed. Eisenbrey countered with “hyperkinetic glam rock.” Elston added “bubblegum piss” to the mix.

“We take our roots from traditional punk,” Eisenbrey clarified. “But now we’re just kind of exploring what that means to us and taking it to a new level.” A level where the widely recognizable vocabulary of punk just doesn’t describe it right. But from the bold descriptions the band offered, you can kinda glean an idea for what they mean.

Their music can be high-strung, all-out beating and rampaging hyperenergetic catalytic punk. That’s part of why they play such great concerts. But they also like to push buttons. Expletives are plentiful, as are odd images and witty lyrics. And they mix things up, too. Itchy Kitty is best-known for hard-driven tracks, but they can reel it in for something a little slower, too.

They’ll make an interesting complement to Built to Spill, which Catman described (after some consideration) as “an angel singing over distorted guitar.” But the musical matchup is less important than Itchy Kitty’s role as stage-setter. Maestros of the live performance, they can do no wrong in riling up the audiences they face.

That’s part of why Built to Spill’s frontman Doug Martsch chose them in the first place. “He saw us at a festival and was like, ‘You know, you guys are pretty cool,’ ” Catman said. Since that first encounter a couple years ago, the group have opened a few times for another of Martsch’s projects, Treepeople. But this is by far the biggest set of shows they’ve signed on for.

Their leg of the tour will include some incredible, bucket-list venues: Portland’s Wonder Ballroom, the Observatory at Santa Ana, the Echoplex in L.A. and two nights at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

And just to make the tour that much more amazing, the band is planning to have their long-awaited new project released right in time. But Catman warns: “We’ve been stuck inside for two years, and the music has gotten weirder.”

“There’s a bizarre amount of food-related songwriting on this album,” he continued, citing, for example, a track titled “Drink Gravy.” “We’ve all been at home eating.” “It targets where our passions have been,” Eisenbrey added.

Whatever this upcoming album and tour have in store, if you’ve got the means, you’ll surely want to be there for it. Built to Spill is enough reason to trek to Portland, but to see them with Itchy Kitty, too, and with new music? It’s almost too good to be true.

For full tour information, visit Itchy Kitty’s Instagram @Itchy.Kitty. Also find their music on itchykitty.bandcamp.com or anywhere you stream music.

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