Kato Kronen on the drums

The allure of the female frontline drummer

This concert is full of woo-girls. It’s not my scene, but I “respect” it. Actually, I can’t stand it. But I respect the venue and a member of one of three opening acts playing at tonight’s show. Kato Kronen is the drummer for the aptly named Kronen, a band I’ll be seeing live for the first time tonight. As Kato walks out onto stage left, two middle aged men call out her name.

Kronen at the Bluebird Theater

Kronen at Denver’s Bluebird Theater on October 30, 2014.

“She’s ignoring us,” one says. Kato adjusts her eighteen-inch feather headdress. She hand crafted the turquoise feather headpiece along with her outfit and the bird costumes three models are wearing while dancing around the venue during tonight’s show. The men who shouted now have their iPhones out; they’re taking pictures of Kato as she plugs in cables and rushes around stage. The Bluebird Theater’s dance floor is filling up fast. Kronen is five minutes late for soundcheck.

Two cellos, two guitars, a keyboard, bass guitar, microphones, and Kato’s drums line the stage. The men are still trying to get Kato’s attention along with the numerous fans now filling up the dance floor, but the drummer can’t hear them. She’s busy sound checking.

As an offstage voice uncouthly shouts for the band to hurry up – they’re five minutes late to start – the lights dim and two girls on the dance floor excitedly shout to Kato that they love her. The drummer gives a shimmy of her shoulders and a trill of excitement as she hammers out the band’s opening beat. When I spoke to Kato several weeks earlier, I was not expecting this kind of reaction from the Bluebird crowd. Kato told me it was difficult for her brother Caleb, Kronen’s frontman, to have girls yelling his name with a fiancé at home. She didn’t say the same thing about her own adoring fans. Maybe she doesn’t realize her affect on her fans or maybe she was being humble; maybe it’s a mixture of both.

Either way, this is a female drummer who is holding her own. This drummer has not been shoved to the back of the stage as drummers typically are. She’s front and slightly off-center, making room enough for the half dozen other people and instruments. She’s photographed by the most photographers I’ve ever witnessed at a local concert (five, including the one straddling all the amps on stage throughout the set. Stay classy, dude). This is a drummer who owns her art and performance with confidence and humility. She’s a drummer who lives in the moment and realizes that moment is temporary. She realizes who she is and why she is involved in music. She knows why she is following her passion despite the warnings of plausible failure from family, critics and the naysayers who never cease to exist.

Kato Kronen is stealing the show and I think she knows it. But she doesn’t let it get to her head. She flaunts it with sincerity and a giant feather headdress instead.

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