with Tiger Weather, Chris Rowland
Backbooth, Orlando, Fl • August 21, 2010
The only thing small about Miniature Tigers is their name. Their bold blending of sounds (indie electro crashing head on into grandiose Of Montreal-style compositions sung with a cool and breezy shoegazer manner) is poppy enough to be easily accessible, yet eclectic enough to earn respectable recognition. Their recent release, Fortress, was one of the most solid albums of the sunny season and it’s this they push as their headlining club tour brought them into Orlando’s Backbooth one quiet Saturday night at the end of the summer.
Local songman Chris Rowland held the room enthralled with his aggressive acoustic strumming, heart-on-his-sleeve vocals, and easy charm. Like Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba, Rowland’s voice tends toward the highly emotive, but he’s got such presence that it doesn’t bother me one bit. A brief cover of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” made him even more likable, for that song will forever make me think of Heath Ledger’s adorable performance of it in 10 Things I Hate About You. Well, that and Denise Richards performing it while dancing with Jesus in Drop Dead Gorgeous. Either way, good stuff!
Turning the dial in an entirely different direction, Tiger Weather piled on the groovy emo pop that was nearly overwhelming with positivity. With smiles on the stage, smiles on the faces watching, and lyrics that could have been chapters from The Power of Positive Thinking, the new band would fit in at both a beach party, or a church youth rally. Front man Ryan Simpson juggles a ukulele, a keyboard, an acoustic guitar, and a vocal style somewhere between Jack Johnson and Saves the Day’s Chris Conley. Surf emo with a Jesus twist, you could say… or you could just say that it was fun, and that the band has serious promise.
Miniature Tigers’ stage dress is as mix and match as their sound. You’ve got band members with Sesame Street characters silk-screened across their chests, a lead singer rockin’ a cut-up Lady Gaga tee and a Dharma Initiative symbol on his guitar (LOST reference!), and a drummer dressed as a bear sans the head. Hey, it works. At least none of them were wearing flip flops (a personal pet peeve).
Like pressing play on their record, the band opened up with tracks one and two off of Fortress, “Mansion of Misery” followed by “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mountain Troll.” That second song is brilliant not only for its Bowie meets Flaming Lips composition, but for its fantastically ridiculous name. Before even hearing it for the first time, it had me at the title. It starts off slow and a capella, and then the music comes in and the insistent drum beat pounds a one-two punch for the next three minutes as singer/guitarist Charlie Brand lets out the melody as simply as a nursery rhyme. Upon hearing just that song played live, I could have gone home happy!
Songs from the Phoenix group’s first album Tell It to the Volcano and the pair of EPs that followed (“The Wolf” had an extra special stomp to it) were thrown into the mix, but it was the brilliance of the new songs like “Gold Skull” and “Egyptian Robe” that shone brightest.
This unassuming band will be sneaking its way into the spotlight as more listeners get their ears around this album. An upcoming opening stint on Neon Indian’s tour should begin the process of indie world domination.
To see more photos from this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.
Miniature Tigers: www.miniaturetigers.com