PHILADELPHIA, PA—With six-speed bicycles piled high and chained to every street sign in a two-block radius of the venue, I expected to be packed in, arm in arm with all the Philly hipsters The Fire could hold. I was anticipating an especially high turnout due to the fact Tigers Jaw, native to Scranton, PA, is leaving next week for an all summer tour and this show is one of the last times to catch them before they ship out.
Like most Philly concerts, the doors opened at 7 p.m. but music couldn’t be heard until at least 9 p.m. This buffer allows concertgoers a maximum of Pabst drinking and cigarette smoking on the side of the street to build anticipation for the show (or to obligatorily show off their cutoff jean shorts and absurd/abundant leg tattoos).
The two opening bands set the stage with some cool jams. The first band, Omar, played fast, loud, and angry pop punk. The duo had a few issues with playing their fast guitar riffs. Omar’s other weakness was that their set was short because they didn’t have enough material to occupy all of their allotted time. Despite these shortcomings, their fast paced, candid performance was quite captivating. Kite Party played next and slowed the pace down with a mellow, ambient indie sound. Their set was clean and perfectly rehearsed. For the most part, the crowd seemed amused during these acts (with the exception of the few beer drinkers/cig smokers who were still not ready to join the show from the sidewalk), but it was clear the vast majority of people were there only to see Tigers Jaw.
Consequently, when TJ took the stage the entire room seemed to become miraculously energized. The band’s set spanned across three albums, including their most popular songs “Spirit Desire,” “Plane VS Tank VS Submarine,” and “I Saw Water.” Even when they weren’t playing fan favorites and instead played newer songs that most people weren’t familiar with, the energy of the show didn’t seem to decline.
The crowd was divided predictably: the front screaming, shoving, crowd surfing, and partaking in other rowdy behaviors; the back standing with folded arms and an occasional tapping foot or nodding head.
The band sounded phenomenal. The five-part ensemble utilized great two and three part melodic harmonies, which makes for a very enjoyable live performance. Even more impressive was the assemblage of their straightforward lyrics, upbeat guitars, and strong keyboard and basslines that sounded even better live than in recordings.
Band members, young and in high spirits, seemed to enjoy playing the show as much as viewers enjoyed being there. With a smile on his face, singer Adam McIwee took song requests from the crowd and proceeded to honor some of them, always making for an especially pleasurable show. Once the set was over, fans hadn’t had enough, demanding (and receiving) an encore with the song “Chemicals.” The unwillingness of the crowd to exit the venue after their set was done goes to show that Philadelphia will thoroughly miss Tigers Jaw this summer.