HAILING from Pennsylvania, USA, Tigers Jaw came a long way to set their Australian fan base alight.
It’s been three years since they last graced our shores, but a new album Spin (2017) and some lineup changes show the band have plenty of fire left in them.
Newcastle’s own Paper Thin opened the night, cruising through their set at their own pace. They’re a perfect musical cousin to the melodic emo-meets-indie-rock sounds of Tigers Jaw, and they built the momentum.
Main support indie songwriter, Jess Locke, is no stranger to Newcastle either, having grown up on the Central Coast.
Locke’s last solo performance here was a year ago, almost to the day. Her band gelled well as a three piece, and between her wobbly vibrato guitar effects and thoughtful drumming patterns, she rolled through a bunch of material from her recent album Universe as well as new single My Body Is An Ecosystem.
The background music consisted of Courtney Barnett and later-day pop era Ramones, perfectly setting up the middle ground in genre between indie pop and punk that Tigers Jaw inhabit. The crowd thickened as they mounted the stage and jumped straight into their 18-song set.
Stage lights shined across the band from behind and projected their silhouettes across the sticky dance floor.
The songs reek with the positive scent of nostalgia, and long for an escape in such a politically-charged and socially-conscious 21st century society. Their music is so summery, but in a sad way.
It’s like the pivotal moment in your favourite young adult coming-of-age novel where the protagonist is being swept away through a river, unable to fight against the currents, and they’re pushed to the bottom.
The room full of 20-somethings bobbed their heads and moved from side to side for song after song, occasionally yelling the words back to vocalist and guitarist Ben Walsh.
His guitar strap clung to a sweat-stained shirt, the strap itself characterised by a camo-style pattern, and a patch which revealed the words “Twin Peaks Sheriff Department”, a nod to the early ’90’s cult TV show of the same name.
Midweek gigs are often tricky in Newcastle, especially for out-of-town touring acts. For an international act with no Australian radio backing, I’d say Tigers Jaw did pretty damn well.