The first time I saw the band Kind of Like Spitting play, I noticed people got real sniffly. Some near me were surreptitiously wiping their eyes. There was a palpable sense of empathy and unease in the room. Singer/occasionally-only-member Ben Barnett howled out terribly affecting lyrics. Things like, "But it's just like suicide/And that you really don't want to die/But you've said it so many times." Hipster throat lump, en masse: check. Watching Barnett play live, you get a genuine sense that he's going to off himself in about three hours, and you're kind of inclined to join him.
Good thing he's definitely got a separate stage persona and real-life personality. The moment he steps away from a guitar, he's gregarious, funny and instantly likable. You'd never know he's the man behind one of the most howlingly slash-your-wrists emo groups around. If you've no idea what "emo" is, fear not. A primer: extreme soft-loud dynamics, diary-entry lyrics, and a lot of seasonal references. It's like Fugazi vs. Donovan, but with more embarrassing haircuts. If that description makes you flinch, and it probably should, don't despair, because the thing about Kind of Like Spitting (heretofore "KOLS") is that it's really good. In fact, a few years ago, former members of seminal emo band Braid asked Barnett to front their new project, Hey Mercedes. He declined, and they went on to suck without him.
So, what makes KOLS any good? A variety of things: not only does Barnett channel a much wider range of influence than his peers, but also, he has experience. He's been releasing records under the KOLS moniker for a good part of the past 10 years (mostly on Hush Records) and, last year, released Bridges Worth Burning (Barsuk), his best record to date. Also a member of The Thermals, he's touring solo right now. Catch him before something bad happens ... just kidding.