Kay Hanley at T.T. the Bear’s Place
To judge by the T.T.’s turnout, the girl has not abandoned the Boston rock scene; she’s simply opened the West Coast franchise. Quick recap: after Letters to Cleo, she flirted with Hollywood billpayer projects, providing voice parts for the cult TV show Generation O, singing on screen in 10 Things I Hate About You, and holding down soundtracks for Josie and the Pussycats and Just like Heaven. There was also a solo album (Cherry Marmalade), a follow-up EP (Babydoll), and songwriting gigs for adorable teenage girls who aspire to be huge rock stars. In her spare time, she’s recording an album with her LA-girl supergroup the Dilettantes, helping Jill Sobule save the Internet, interviewing Gary Cherone for the Phoenix, recording another solo album, and collaborating on music for a “Frank Gehry-esque Sesame Street” show called The Musiquarium.
On this night, Hanley’s audience is a constellation of bespectacled middle-aged men and younger metrosex purse toters, bags slung on shoulders, necks craned high. After an opening set spent cradling guitars and stumbling around while jacked up on vitamin water, power chords, and three-part harmonies, openers Scamper do the smart thing by bringing Hanley up on stage . . . by drawing her name out of a hat — right! “Kat Handey?” asks bassist Brendan Boogie. A fiery dirty blonde crosses the stage, pumps both fists in the air. And that’s how the party is brought by a smallish, thirtysomething mother of two.Hanley is a flurry of earnest motion, loose and welcoming. Soon enough she’s into her own set, digging into classics like “Awake,” off ’95’s Wholesale Meats and Fish. She cuts swimming circles with her arms, bopping from her knees here and scrunching up her shoulders there. She takes the audience’s enthusiasm and runs with it, jogging in place, then burns through a set of blissfully chorded songs and darkly cheerful declarations: “I like your video, but your music’s shit”; “I’m not your mom, I’m a fucking a-bomb.” Nice surprise: Letters to Cleo guitarist Greg McKenna jumping briefly on stage for “Pete Beat,” and then the inevitable “Cellars by Starlight,” a feel-good shout-out from her recent split single with Scamper. “Plastic cup of cheap red wine/Pencil, paper, requisite T.T.’s night,” belts Hanley, and people acknowledge it with beer cups hoisted into the air. “I’m such a townie, he’ll never talk to me/Whatever. Our set’s coming up at nine.” As if she’d never left.
: Live Reviews
, Greg McKenna
, Gary Cherone
, Jill Sobule