Pics/review: Tigers Jaw, Saintseneca & Smidley @ Webster Hall
The Tigers Jaw/Saintseneca/Smidley tour is about to come to an end, hitting Philly tonight (6/23) before wrapping things up in Boston on Saturday (6/24). Last night (6/22), the tour rolled through NYC for a show at Webster Hall. Pictures are in the gallery above.
The tour is in support of Tigers Jaw's excellent new album (and major label debut) spin, the first album made entirely by Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins since the band's massive lineup change. Ben, Brianna, and their current touring band are better than ever -- so tight, so professional, so full-sounding -- and last night's show had the band on a high the whole set. The spin songs fit perfectly with the rest of the set, which included a handful of songs off 2014's Charmer (one of our favorites of that year), and older crowd-pleasers like "Plane Vs Tank Vs Submarine" and "I Saw Water." Those two got the biggest response from the crowd as always, but really the crowd was going nuts the whole time, bouncing around and starting mini mosh pits. I watched from the balcony at one point, and Webster Hall's floor was just a sea of constantly-moving people.
I was just as excited to see Tigers Jaw as I was to see opener Smidley, whose self-titled debut album has been one of my most-played albums lately. Smidley is the solo project of Foxing singer Conor Murphy, and for this tour (the first-ever Smidley tour), he had a four-piece backing band that included another singer who provided harmonies and overlapping vocals throughout just about every song. Smidley's music is more upbeat and a little more lighthearted than Foxing's dead-serious post-rock, and Conor was in a way more playful mood than he is at Foxing shows. He seemed more relaxed too, and genuinely grateful that anyone had showed up to watch his set at all. Like in Foxing, Conor's vocals are impressive in a way that's really above-average for an indie rock band. He can go from mid-range singing to a flawless falsetto to a raging scream without missing a note. He played most of the set with a guitar, but for the last song, he turned his guitar-playing duties over to Saintseneca's drummer so he could let loose and run off stage like he does at Foxing shows. It gave the end of their humble opening set a real punch.
Saintseneca's set had them sounding as great as ever. Their four-part harmonies are so rich, and they've got a real stomping, reach-for-the-stars delivery that makes them hard to deny (they're sort of a folkier version of Funeral-era Arcade Fire). The crowd certainly couldn't deny them -- they were begging for an encore.
photos by Amanda Hatfield