Tigers Jaw is probably the best band you haven’t listened to yet. Over their past 13 years of existence, their skillful melodies and emotive lyricism have grown from the punk and emo scene into indie rock territory, lending their music an enticing genre binary that draws fans from all types of alternative music. The band’s older material, like “I Saw Water” and “Plane vs. Tank vs. Submarine,” still elicits adolescent energy while newer tracks such as “Favorite” and “Window” pull from lighter indie notes while retaining the striking riffs and solos that put them on the map in the first place.
Thankfully, their emotional gravity and nuanced songwriting translates perfectly in performance. Performing as direct support for The Wonder Years on a full tour of the U.S., Tigers Jaw proved to be an impeccable fit for the lineup (also consisting of Tiny Moving Parts and Worriers) on the first date in Pittsburgh this past Friday. After witnessing a few of their performances, it has become abundantly clear that Tigers Jaw fans have always been in it for the long haul, clinging to every word and moving as a crowd with every soaring melody.
What’s most impressive about a Tigers Jaw performance is their clarity — every member holds tangible weight in bringing the songs to life on stage. Melodies from lead vocalist/guitarist Ben Walsh cut through the expertly paced drum and bass rhythms. Synth lines from Brianna Collins, who also provides vocals, stand out rather than become swallowed by the rest of the band, adding desired complexity to the performance that is present on their albums. Yet, on stage, their music somehow feels more massive; indie pop that holds all the weight of ripping punk rock.
This intensity is in stark contrast to their stage presence in between songs. Tigers Jaw is a rather unassuming band, saying little to the crowd other than appreciation for the tour and the fans. The band has no need to entertain beyond their art when each track hits the crowd like a rocket. From the opening notes of “The Sun,” the entire crowd is entirely controlled by their energy, yelling “pushing me away because you feel that I’m all the same,” while bodies collide and the passion of the band quickly replicates that of the crowd.
Frankly, Tigers Jaw is a near perfect band. Their magnetic lyricism pulls you in while riding on enticingly written songs, perfectly pairing synth and guitar to appeal to a wide range of music listeners. Their set opening for The Wonder Years highlights their versatility, also mirroring the headliner’s punk rock roots and newfound indie rock tendencies. The bands were a match made in heaven, drawing from the experiences of past emotive adolescence to curate impressive, boundary-defying alternative rock today which they both deliver with impressive enormity in performance.