Tigers Jaw: Australia Tour 2018 @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Praised as a must-see gig by friends who caught the show in Brisbane, I found myself at Corner Hotel ready for something great. I was relatively unfamiliar with any of the acts on the bill, yet keen to see what the night would bring.

The Lazy Susans (formerly Antonia & The Lazy Susans) opened the evening, starting with “I Don’t Like You” from their Closure EP. Genuine Australian accents with the tandem vocals and a happy-to-be-here vibe made it easy to be drawn into the story being shared by Antonia Susan (vocals & guitar), Kieren Turnbull (guitar & vocals), Wesley Reyes (bass), and Ashlee Giblin (drums). Despite not knowing the band nor their songs, I found it easy to move along with the heart-wrenching choruses and grooving bass lines. Apparently so did everyone else present, making for a really chilled vibe of all of us just hanging out with The Lazy Susans, who shared some truly impressive music sprinkled with some authentic/amusing banter between. Standouts of the set for me were the song with the lyric “I’m no angel”, as well as the band’s great connection (especially the dynamic between the two vocalists).

Jess Locke followed, instantly having me fall in love with the gorgeous guitar tone, dreamy vocals, and sexy chord progressions. Intriguing from the beginning, the three piece (Jess on guitar and vocals, Jim on bass, Chris on drums) offered serene vibes with an appreciative nod to something a little more distorted/grungy. Subdued moments carried a mystique to them that an attentive Corner Hotel crowd happily soaked up.

Compared to the previous set, it was a tougher experience to take in, requiring a bit more attention ‘bandwidth’ to be present with the band while they unconditionally shared dreamy nostalgia and regularly lost themselves in the music. There was some crowd restlessness in the sleepier moments, and I wasn’t sure whether more engagement was needed to be inspired by the band, or whether it was up to the audience to surrender to the experience. Regardless, set was something of a dreamy soundtrack to real life observations, steady and drawing and filtering out over us, accessible to anyone open to them. Sweet serenading and the invitation for us to drift into Jess’ slow and steadily shared honest stories was a relaxed experience, and I felt inspired to later explore her songs with lyrics like “I rub myself against the universe, but like my lover’s skin there’s no way in”.

Straight off the bat, Tigers Jaw pulled us all into happy vibes and bouncing harmonies. And like a really fun dance party, I swear this didn’t let up the entire time. Flowing easily from song to song, wild riffage was as comfortable here as dreamier organ/synth sounds and enthralling moments of changing pace. BIG singalongs (“WHAT ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS, DO THEY MAKE YOU HAPPY?”) accompanied with emphatic fingerpointing were a mainstay of the set, with the Melbourne crowd feeling as part of the band as the people on stage. In this experience seemingly custom designed for bouncing and dancing, it was easy to get swept up in the beautiful repeating ending of “Follows”.

This Melbourne show was the last of the tour, and vocalist/guitarist Ben Walsh shared how they felt “really comfortable” here, on this biggest show of the tour. The set rolled on with good times continuing on stage and in the audience. Building instrumental moments that dropped into dancing, grooving, feelgood harmonies crafted a really strong sense of unity, and guitar rhythms were drawing and hooking. Moments such as when they played “Escape Plan” felt beautiful in their vulnerability and quiet, tracing thoughtful lyrical lines with the instrumentation progressively building.

Though new and foreign to me, the songs felt comfortable and familiar, like a sweet spot of strong/high energy and tender emotion. All parts of the band worked together in creating a full landscape of sound. I was struck with how well the vocalists worked together, whether intertwined with harmonies, speaking the same voice, or tag teaming. The result was something magical, seeming like sharing two pieces of the same story, both improving upon the other.

The vocalists didn’t stand a chance when “Chemicals” began though, with the crowd easily drowning them and the instruments out. Beautifully connective, stunning instrumental dream scenes and emotive drums led into an audience ‘solo’. In my notes at this point I typed: “Feels great to be here.”

Despite a brief pause due to a ‘discussion’ with security, Tigers Jaw’s set was a high the entire time; punctuated by crowd surfers with big grins on their faces, funky as hell bass grooves, a dancing/bouncing pit, and waves of melody washing over us all, building into a freedom-inducing thrashfest. Loved it!

[Photos courtesy of Liam Davidson]
Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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