15/04/2018 The Exchange, Bristol
Punk shows in small rooms are great, the combination of community, intimacy and ever increasing warmth is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening.
I can think of few better things than walking into a venue as Slaughter Beach Dog starts to mesmerise a crowd, with minimal stage chat they let the music do the talking. It says a lot. There is a maturity which is not outwardly noticeable in Modern Baseball Jake’s other musical project. Lyrically there is an open dialogue coming from the stage and in person this is powerful, simple things like pained expressions and emotive cracks break the audience’s hearts in new ways.
The slide guitar weeps it’s way over acoustic guitar and choppy basslines to create the perfect emotive soundscape to carry fragile vocals. Then as soon as the audience have emoted enough, the set approaches a climax the entire band plug in and shred their way through the final two songs. Heads nod, toes tap and the scene is perfectly set for Worriers to take over.
Once more the stage chat is subtle, luckily once more the music says everything the band need to say. Emotion pours from the stage from the start and much like SBD the audience are engrossed. The effortless song progression and complex musicianship allow every member to take focus on the stage, this equality fits perfectly within relatable lyrics. The vocal range is vast with emotive cracks and soaring hooks pairing with tight vocal harmonies, the accomplished musicianship couples angular guitars with classic punk riffs and basslines that chop and change on a knife edge.
This is not a night where the supports have been an afterthought, as with their individual sets there is a real flow leading perfectly into Tigers Jaw. Within moments the tempo and temperature increase as the first three songs explode from the stage and the full room fills further. There is no doubt that this the headline act, there is such a natural level of entertainment flowing from the stage. Movements are confident and the set list is a perfect balance between old, new and obscure which has the crowd in the palm of their hands for the duration. Tigers Jaw ooze emo, indie and post and pop punk but without ever sounding contrived, the influences are there but there is an individuality in the way they are combined.
Musically TJ are stunning, the almost retro sounding guitar is angular and precise this combines effortlessly with keys and synths to create multiple layers of sound balanced somewhere between grit and saccharin sweetness. These delicate combinations share focus in ever changing time signatures creating drama and beauty behind hook laden emo/punk. These vocal hooks are infectious and spread throughout the room making the atmosphere in the room an absolute delight, but it’s the harmonies that steal the show. There is such a delicate vocal balance that the combinations sound almost telepathic, there is a natural sounding closeness to every single note. The set remains beautifully balanced until the very end and the night feels warmer outside the venue as a result.
Sometimes there are balanced line ups and this triple header is a perfect example, all three acts were utterly wonderful.