In the Venue
with Street Dogs
by Ricky Vigil
Have you ever really liked a band, but when they started to get more popular and more successful, they just seemed to get worse and worse? Well, I can think of about five times that this has happened to me over the last few years, but Tiger Army is the most recent band to lose a bit of their magic for me. I suppose it was inevitable: They toured with Rancid, Social Distortion and even Morrissey, so their audience has grown by leaps and bounds, but they were one of my favorite bands first, dammit! Regardless, I was still pretty excited to see this show at In the Venue, especially because the Street Dogs would be opening for them.
When I arrived, the Street Dogs were a little bit into their set, and there was no room to move at all. I watched in the back, among the people who are either too scared or too cool to move, then decided that I needed some booze. I grabbed a drink and headed back out to watch the Street Dogs belt it out from behind the barrier separating the lushes from the decent folk, but I just couldn't get into it. The band was just as solid and energetic as they had been in the past, but being away from the action really bummed me out. I went back into the bar and listened as the band finished up their set.
After a few more beers and brief verbal assault from some Busdriver fans from the small room, I headed back into the big room to see Tiger Army. I managed to get a little bit closer to the stage and was a bit surprised to find myself excited to see the band take the stage. I thought that their previous album, “III: Ghost Tigers Rise,” was incredible. The mixture of psychobilly, punk, country and goth undertones makes for some haunting, brilliant music, but this year's “Music From Regions Beyond” was a big disappointment to me. Still, Tiger Army had provided me with much entertainment throughout the years, and never let me down with their live show. Soon enough, the band took the stage and ripped into “Prelude: Signal Return” to get the crowd moving.
Even though the set was largely made up of tracks from “Music From Regions Beyond,” Tiger Army put on a great show. For whatever reason, the new songs sound much better live. Maybe it's the presence of a crowd moving and singing along, or maybe I was drunk. Either way, I found myself enjoying it. The band even brought out a steel guitar player for a few songs, including the melancholy country ballad “In the Orchard.” The slower songs combined with faster tunes like “Hotprowl” and “True Romance” gave the set a varied quality that I like a lot. The inclusion of the old school rockabilly sound of “Twenty Flight Rock” was icing on the cake. By the end of the show, I didn't even care that the band was playing mostly new stuff. My favorite song of the night was a even a new one: “Where the Moss Slowly Grows.”
As much as I like to bitch and moan, I almost always have fun at shows by bands that are no longer what they once were to me. Tiger Army may no longer be one of my favorite bands, and I may not like their new album, but their live performance is still something great. I didn't mind the hordes of people or even the disgustingly filthy bathroom. I was having too much fun to dwell on any of the negative.