Anyone who’s familiar with the DMV’s music scene knows Cathy DiToro, an incandescent ball of energy whose bands So Fetch (aughts covers), The Legwarmers (’80s covers), and Party Like It’s (ska/dance) clearly don’t occupy enough of her time.
A songwriter in her own right, Cathy has assembled a fresh quartet, the aptly named RoseRiot, to perform original songs, and the band made a long-awaited return to live performance with an outdoor appearance at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia this past Friday.
The weather gifted us with a spectacular day, warm but little humidity, and as the sun dropped behind the band, RoseRiot hit Jammin’ Java’s parking lot stage just after 7pm. Cathy mentioned that the band had a few new songs, but that they would not be playing them live until their 9:30 Club gig on Sept. 21. (Hey! RoseRiot open for party god Andrew WK at 9:30 Club that day — don’t miss that show! Buy your tickets online.)
The setlist consisted primarily of selections from their first EP, released in late 2019.
Stream RoseRiot’s self-titled EP on Spotify:
RoseRiot’s four players each bring a distinctive perspective to the music, resulting in a sound that draws from rock and pop, grunge and punk, shoegaze and new wave. The band consists of Cathy on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Nicole Morris on lead guitar, Cati Sesana on drums, and Delaney Cadden on bass.
Opening with “B.S.,” RoseRiot set the energy bar high with the song’s bouncy, guitar driven melody reminiscent of the Go-Go’s pure power pop. “Give Me a Sign” followed in the same energetic vein, with “Magic Pills” next, a song Cathy introduced for the “recovering Catholics” in the audience. By the time the band got to “Supermodel,” the Jill Sobule cover from the movie Clueless, and with whom Cathy had performed at 2019’s Herafest, Jammin’ Java’s parking lot had transformed into a full-fledged music festival.
Check out the official music video for “Magic Pills” by RoseRiot on YouTube:
Cathy’s warm and witty personality shines through onstage and, combined with her effervescent smile, lights up any performance. At Jammin’ Java, with kids and dogs running around, the carnival-like atmosphere added to the joy we all felt communing with friends, family and colleagues. An impromptu jam session with guitarist Nicole and a young drummer provided a perfect conclusion to RoseRiot’s set and segue into a DiToro-led jam session covering bands like No Doubt, 4 Non-Blondes, and Beastie Boys.
RoseRiot’s overall performance felt hesitant at times, perhaps reflecting the rustiness of not performing publicly for a year and a half, but any musical mistakes went unnoticed as the band’s determination, emotion, and sincerity carried their performance. By the time RoseRiot performs next, the kinks are sure to be ironed out, leaving only the musical joy of a powerhouse band.
No article on Cathy DiToro is complete without again mentioning ProjectHERA, the nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2017, to celebrate, promote and empower female musicians of all ages. Through open mics, educational workshops, and a yearly music festival, ProjectHERA is dedicated to supporting young women and girls in music. As its CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer), Cathy’s experience in the music industry, and gigs like Friday night’s, certainly make a compelling case for more women and girls in the performing arts.
Jammin’ Java’s outdoor shows are free, though please take advantage of the food (Union Pie’s pizzas are outstanding) and beverage offerings, and don’t forget to show your generous appreciation to the serving staff. You’ll also want to check out, and purchase, the artists’ merchandise as well as drop by the “Donation Station.”
Here are some photos of Rose Riot performing at Jammin’ Java on July 23, 2021. All photos copyright and courtesy of Mark Caicedo.