Concert Review: Black Belt Eagle Scout @ Black Cat (9/9/18)

Black Belt Eagle Scout
Katherine Paul aka Black Belt Eagle Scout (Photo Credit: Jason Quigley)

When Black Belt Eagle Scout performs, it’s time to listen.

And listen and enjoy we did at the Black Cat Backstage on September 9th, as the opener for Saintseneca.

Katherine Paul grew up in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, a reservation in the northern part of Washington State, before moving to Portland, OR for college, and taught herself to play guitar and drums via bootleg VHS tapes of Nirvana and Hole.

Also taking inspiration from bands like Riot Grrrl and Sleater-Kinney, she crafted her own brand of fuzzed out guitar-driven rock that became Black Belt Eagle Scout.

With Katherine on guitar, and with a drummer (also from a Pacific Northwest Indian tribe), together they performed eight songs for the Black Cat’s rather full Backstage. Normally a bassist accompanies the live shows, but she had instead traveled back to Oregon for a wedding. To which Kathrine noted, some songs are just better with bass.

The second song of the evening, “Just Lie Down”, encapsulates the sound perfectly, fuzzed out guitar, a melodious hook, and quiet, introspective lyrics. Any audience members not already familiar with Kathrine’s music, were quite taken (presumably).

Later “Soft Stud” goes even further, with a great, driving hook that accentuates Kathrine’s keening refrain, ‘Need you, want you.’

Black Belt Eagle Scout is touring for Mother of My Children, an EP reissue coming September 14 via Saddle Creek.

Katherine told a few stories of inspiration between songs, and mainly Black Belt Eagle Scout is about activism and pride in her Native American identity. You can clearly hear the music has roots in the Seattle rock scene of the 1990’s, but the album is also empowering and maybe more free, inspired by the beautiful landscapes of her hometown and letting go of the pain of loss.

“Indians Never Die” speaks to this and is an anthem to respect. Respect for who you are, respect for how you navigate the world, and how you treat the environment, all strong tenets of native cultures.

“Sam, A Dream”, as the second to last song, started with slow, lovely lyrics, then blazed out with a grand finish, with Kathrine focused all her energy on giving us the perfect guitar riff.

Black Belt Eagle Scout will certainly return to DC, and you certainly will be there to listen.

Just Lie Down
Soft Stud (I think)
Indians Never Die
Sam, A Dream

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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