Melancholy for the masses: An evening with Tigers Jaw

For anyone familiar with the world of Will Yip, the Philadelphia based producer and engineer behind some of the most popular alt-rock/emo releases of the last five years, Scranton’s darling children Tigers Jaw are a household name. Initially establishing themselves in record shops and house shows a decade ago with their own unique brand of Your Favorite Weapon-esque pop punk angst, they’ve overcome massive member departures and the test of time to become one of the true modern juggernauts of their sound.

Currently, Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins, who co-wrote their new album spin in its entirety, have been out on the road supporting the new LP since its release.  A proper headliner happened back in the late spring/early summer, while on this particular night, they were nearing the end of their trek direct supporting Manchester Orchestra on their own album release headliner. It was my first time seeing a show at Music Farm, a relatively new venue in downtown Columbia, filling the void for a proper bigger room show space for the city.

Photos by Peyton Hayslette

As with any type of large-scale support stint, it was obvious most fans in attendance were more excited for the headlining act, but that didn’t stop Tigers Jaw from playing a concise, energetic, and fun set of new gems and old bangers just the same. Starting off with the lead track from spin, “Follows” began the pacing of their set in an ideal manner, with it’s consistent tempo and jangly leads. Soon after followed “The Sun” and “Hum”, two crowd favorites from their eponymous debut LP and their 2014 release Charmer.

In a live setting is where Tigers Jaw truly thrives now. With Walsh and Collins at the helm, along with former Make Do & Mend bassist Luke Schwartz, former Polar Bear Club guitarist Pat Benson, and former Fireworks drummer Teddy Roberts accompanying them, the songs sounds just as full and bliss-filled as the album would suggest they can be with a “who’s who of emo-tinged punk rock” backing band they’ve assembled.

As the setlist meandered on, the emphasis on trying out newer songs became apparent, as my two personal favorite songs off spin, “Brass Ring” and “Make It Up”, found their place perfectly nestled into the middle of the set, their brooding-yet-dancy pacing highlighting one of Tigers Jaw’s keen pop sensibilities, truly crafting a sound of melancholy for the masses.

More new tracks were present towards the latter portion of the set, along with another classic TJ track in “Plane Vs Tank Vs Submarine”. As far as getting the energy to spike upward in lieu of the headliner Manchester Orchestra following them, Tigers Jaw could not have done their job any better. While introspective, the warm and fuzzy punchiness of their set demands to be matched in attentiveness, even for the most unfamiliar listener.

With this new album, it’s easy to see that Tigers Jaw have truly come into their own. The pop hooks are massive and catchy, the rhythm section is bold and confident, and it’s easily Walsh and Collins most confident vocal performance of their careers. With their first major label release under their belts, the ceiling really is the roof.

Tigers Jaw – Friday October 6th at Music Farm in Columbia, SC


1. Follows

2. The Sun

3. Hum

4. Brass Ring

5. Guardian

6. Chemicals

7. Make It Up

8. Teen Rocket

9. June

10. Plane Vs Tank Vs Submarine

11. Favorite

12. Window

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