The crowd surges forward, causing those who were standing directly in front of the stage to now spill onto it. Only a few chords into their set at The Grey Eagle, Tigers Jaw ignites the audience and maintains the energy throughout the show.
Just moments before, the audience swayed to the crooning of Yowler and bopped to the rock of Looming. Though the room was only half full at best for the two opening bands, the venue packed in for the headliner.
The last time Tigers Jaw graced an Asheville stage was at UNC Asheville’s own Alumni Hall in 2015. Though that night featured only band members Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins playing an acoustic set, The Grey Eagle show last Tuesday featured a full touring band, offering a higher energy show than the previous show three years ago.
On tour in support of their latest album Spin, Tigers Jaw played a mix of old and new songs. Though Spin was released in May 2017, by the time the band got to Asheville their loyal audience had memorized every word, with the singing of the crowd often drowning out that of the actual band. For one song, the band took a step back from their mics, opting to play for the singing crowd and enjoy the moment.
Tigers Jaw opened their set with a new song, “Favorite.” Immediately, their audience pressed further into the stage and shouted the words along with Walsh. Known for their emotionally raw lyrics, Tigers Jaw does not disappoint with their latest effort and “Favorite” is no different. With lines like, “Call me up to cut me open again” and “What’s your favorite way to dull the pain? I haven’t found a way to replace you,” the duo that makes up Tigers Jaw is characterized by their vulnerability. Though often masked by hard guitars and loud drums, their sensitivity remains a consistent chord throughout their discography, if one takes only a moment to look.
Though formed in 2005, the band has gone through many changes. Originally formed as a full band, several members left the project throughout its iteration. Spin marks the first time the remaining members have created an album written and recorded solely as a two-piece band.
While the latest effort is by no means a departure from their original sound, the album introduces a clear view into what the band has become. With Spin, listeners become intimately close with Walsh and Collins, getting to know the band in a way they could not have before with the influence of other artists on Tigers Jaw’s music.
This time around, the two dedicated an entire month to recording. The effort paid off as, out of the five albums Tigers Jaw has produced, Spin is easily the tightest and most cohesive.
Though each member contributed different aspects of the album, it comes together seamlessly. Both in writing style and vocals, Walsh and Collins could not be suited better for one another.
The way the two come together on record translates to the stage.
Though they are joined by a full backing band on stage at The Grey Eagle, the two of them dominate the stage. While Collins stayed behind her keyboard, her passion was no less than that of Walsh who elected to energetically jump around the stage with his guitar.
While Walsh takes the lead for the majority of the songs, Collins’ voice perfectly blends with her partner’s in a way that displays the raw emotions of the band while also giving the crowd plenty of ammunition for their mosh pit and crowd surfing. Neither member of the band seemed to take too much notice of the moshing. Collins only noticed when one audience member gets pushed onto the stage and nearly knocks over her keyboard.
There is a juxtaposition in the content of Tigers Jaw’s songs and the behavior of the crowd. While Walsh croons in “Window” that he is “uncovering misconceptions at the level of everything I care about, everything I’ve ever loved,” the audience is pushing and shoving each other in the sort of camaraderie that can only be found at a punk show.
Still, the steadfast nature of the band — who endured changes in members and labels and still managed to stay together — is mirrored in the crowd. Though the crowd stays in a constant state of motion as fans dance, sing and mosh their way closer to the stage, they all remained acting as one entity. This type of solidarity is integral to the band, their members and the fanbase.
Their resilience is exemplified in a line from the song “June” on Spin: “Hold out for June, it brings new season.”