REVIEW: PHAT CAT SWINGER PLAYS TO A PACKED HOUSE AT THE EDISON

Phat Cat Swing at the Edison, December 29th, 2016

On Thursday, December 29th, 2016, the “little big band” Phat Cat Swinger played to a packed dance floor at the Edison in Downtown Los Angeles. It was my first time seeing Phat Cat Swinger, and it was the most crowded I’ve ever seen the Edison on a Thursday night.

I admit – I was skeptical about how much I’d like Phat Cat Swinger, even though I had heard good things about them. The name alone conjures up memories of of neo-Swing bands in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  Currently, this style of music is shunned by much of the L.A. Swing dance elite in favor of authentic gypsy jazz and New Orleans style jazz from the 20’s and 30’s.

When they started playing, my fears seemed to be confirmed: sparkly colorful jackets, blaring horns, and a repertoire of songs including covers of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and renditions of modern songs played in a Swing style. It seemed like 2001 all over again.

Phat Cat Swinger at the Edison on December 29th, 2016

But, the very well-dressed crowd seemed to be into it and the dance floor was soon as crowded as a mosh pit. There were a lot of beginners but also a decent number of seasoned Swing dance regulars. PCS had me when they played a cover of one of my favorite songs by the Squirrel Nut Zippers, “The Suits are Picking Up the Bill” from 1998. I had to jump on the dance floor for that one. I also liked their version of “New York, New York”. This was clearly a high-energy band and the dancers loved every minute of it! I was getting into it too.

By the way, I’ve said this many times before, but the Edison is one of my favorite venues in LA, an it is a privilege to be able to Swing dance in a venue as extravagant and beautiful as it is.

Mid way through the night, Phat Cat Swinger was joined by the Beverly Bombshells, a female vocal trio immaculately dressed in 1940’s vintage style. Unfortunately, they only sang a few songs. It would have been great to hear more from them.

In spite of that, the energy from the band continued and the dancers seemed ready for even more at the end of the night. I had never seen that many dancers stay for the end of the last set at the Edison before.

So, while “neo Swing” might not be hip with some of the hard-core Swing dancers at the moment, there are still plenty of folks who can appreciate it when done well, as Phat Cat Swinger does. They have a loyal following of dedicated fans in L.A.

If you have reservations about modern high-energy big band music, I recommend that you put aside your biases, jump on the dance floor, and Lindy like it’s 1999. In the mean time, I’m adding Phat Cat Swinger to my list of best L.A. Swing bands!

What do you think of Phat Cat Swinger? Please comment below! – Brian


  • Ann Le Yonce

    I SOooo bummed I missed out on this. It sounds like it was a GREAT night of music and dancing. The Edison is on my list of places to check out. I’ll have to make sure I don’t miss out the next them they perform at the Edison.

    On another topic… Have you ever been swing dancing here at the Lindy Hop Stop in Westminster? I was curious to know what the scene is like. Here’s the link to their site. http://lindyhopstop.com/?page_id=93

  • Riley

    I’ve seen these Cats play several times and it’s always a great show. They add fresh new tunes, communicate with the crowd and get people up and dancing. That’s what it’s all about. Great, tight rhythm section and screamin’ horns. Curtis is obviously a fan of Sinatra and has the perfect voice for the gig.

    • So true, thanks for sharing Riley!

      Brian

  • Juliann

    I love The Edison and Phat Cat Swinger. Their new lead singer, Curtis Parry, is great! I have always loved the Great American Songbook tunes, so any tight band that can incorporate those songs and get us swinging on the dance floor is a favorite!

    • Thanks for sharing Juliann!

      Brian

  • Ashley

    Love Phat Cat Swinger! I first heard them at the Cicada, and that night was a great one for dancers. I only wish they would play in Boston!

    • Awesome, thanks for sharing Ashley!

      Brian