Concert Review: Tigers Jaw @ First Unitarian Church (June 21, 2013)

Image courtesy of Run For Cover Records
Image courtesy of Run For Cover Records

By Nick Sukiennik

At this point, I can’t even remember how many times I’ve seen Tigers Jaw (maybe five?). Back in high school, I’d venture into the city to catch them at small venues like The Fire and Ava House. They would frequently play with another group of my favorite local emo-punks, Algernon Cadwallader. It was those shows that foreshadowed, and perhaps even sparked the fuse that led to my current musical tastes.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d still be able to appreciate Tigers Jaw as I used to, and was concerned that I’d feel nostalgic at best. However, it turned out that their music resonated with me just as much, if not even more, than it did before.

With songs like “Chemicals,” and “I Saw Water,” there is a certain existential theme behind their lyrics that makes their other topics of relationships and heartbreak seem almost insignificant in comparison. This may be the reason the impact of their songs has not dwindled over the years.

As I listened attentively to the instrumentation, knowing this would be the last chance I’d ever get to do so, I was very impressed with not only the execution, but the song structures and hooks they have written. For on old school fan like me, the songs from their first album were the ones that resonated most, while the new ones just seemed like unnecessary extensions of what had already been mastered.

One thing I noticed was the gap in the middle in the stage, in front of the drummer, which formerly was occupied by second vocalist/guitarist Adam McIlwee. It was a bit disappointing, as the contrast in the two vocal styles is a big part of what make their songs so powerful.

Luckily, being there for WKDU, I was able to avoid the sweaty funneling of people that usually happens at the end of such intense Church shows (note: a good way to gauge how good the show was is to check how shiny the floor is at the end) by taking cover behind the merch table, where we gave away stickers and other promotional items.

Another observation, which may be a result of my spending much of my time in basements these days, is that this was the first show at which I have seen bands with tip jars on their tables. The merch kid for Tigers Jaw seemed to especially take advantage of this by shouting, “We love tips!” a bit too frequently, which to me diminished the feeling of mutual respect a fan might feel for supporting a band whose music they appreciate.

But anyway, Tigers Jaw was great, and I even found myself getting emotional towards the end of the night singing to myself some of the memorable lyrics I would most likely never again hear live.

By the time everyone filtered out, lead vocalist/guitarist Ben Walsh meandered to the back of the venue to collect some things. I took the opportunity to thank him for many years of great music, and told him I practically grew up with him. “We grew up together,” he told me, earnestly, conveying a deeper meaning, as if the music had actually created a familial bond between us.

And with that, we all jump into adulthood leaving our childhood emotions and energy behind, to enter into the working world to become heartless robots for evermore.

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