This is the Kit is the songwriting project of Kate Stables, who has a voice like an old friend. Some songs are like a comfortably rollicking lullaby, and others like stimulating psychedelic adventures. For her late set at Mercury Lounge, Stables switched between banjo and electric guitar, and was joined by a drummer and bassist. The latter was sporting one of their chain mail hood shirts under an equally visually stimulating sweater. Stables informed us, after the bassist pointed out his shirt to us, which was also available at the merch table, that they were into real chain mail getup, but didn’t bring them on tour because that would obviously add a lot of weight to their load. She joked that we would have to see them in England where we could all sport chain mail like knights.
Stables & Co. started their set with “Easy Pickings,” with Katie plucking the banjo and singing in a gauzy gypsy timbre. The drums were minimal, and the bass was even less noticeable so that the banjo and Kate’s vocals seemed like two melodies slowly tumbling down a hill together. There was something so familiar about it that I could have sworn I’ve heard this song before, and their version was a cover. I’ve since been unable to prove this, so I can only conclude that I must have heard This is the Kit before somewhere, and am remembering it like a foggy yet fond memory. Stables’ songs lend themselves well to that type of feeling; like experiencing déjà vu with an old soul. “Earthquake” one of the psych adventure songs, and admittedly the song that made me want to see them in the first place. They played with a sort of calm energy, somehow managing to be both soft spoken and powerful all at once, with such a genuine quality. Nothing about them seemed in any way put on or just for show. This is the Kit’s bio includes a humorous jab about the royal you not liking the banjo, but after seeing them live that statement becomes irrelevant. Banjo or no banjo, This is the Kit makes music that anyone with a soul and musical bone in their body can gravitate toward, and take your shoes off and relax to, as Stables did for the entire set.
This was This is the Kit’s last U.S. show date; they’re off to the UK and France playing dates through June, so anyone who wants to call them out on their chain mail joke can do so at any number of dates. You can also check them out on Facebook and listen to their entire album on Bandcamp.