Tiger Army - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)

Tiger Army

Live in Chicago (2019)

live show

Tiger Army/SadGirl/Kate Clover -- Metro 10/13/19

So here we were back at at Metro again, this time for Tiger Army. I love the Metro for so many reasons, not least of which is the GMan tavern, the small bar next door. Small and cozy and you can normally see the bands drinking before or after the show. More on this later.

First up was Kate Clover, a 4-piece band from LA. The singer is Kate, so I’m not sure if Kate Clover is actually the band name or just her name and she has session musicians behind her. Not that it matters much because they were great. Imagine if you will, a punkier 1978 Plastic Letters-era Blondie, stunning lead singer and all. But this one plays guitar like Chrissie Hynde and sings like Dale Bozzio (Missing Persons). They were really, really good. The only bad part was that they were only given 30 minutes! They played their only single, Channel Zero along with 5 or 6 other “bangers” as the kids say. Check out that song if you have Apple Music or Spotify. Thank me later. The band were selling merch and they were super cool and very down to earth, so that was a bonus. I hope they come back through town soon.

Up next was Sadgirl. Now, hopefully you have seen the movie Spinal Tap. Not that this band in any way resembles those guys, because frankly who could resemble the godlike genius of St Hubbins and Tufnel. But think back to the movie if you would. They had an album called “Shark Sandwich”. Hopefully you remember the review of that album. It was a two word review: “Sh*t sandwich”. There’s my review of Sadgirl. Sorry guys. I honestly don’t know why Tiger Army would take this bunch of morose millennials on the road with them. You want a band to fire up the crowd, give them something enjoyable. Not annoy them for 45 minutes with semi-surf hipness, gold chains and all.

Finally we get to the headliners, Tiger Army. They have been pumping out their version of American psychobilly since 1999, but these days there’s a lot less billy and even less psycho. They are getting a more early 60s Roy Orbison vibe, which is no less enjoyable. And even their biggest critics would have to admit that Nick 13 is a gifted songwriter with a knack for combining that classic late 50s/early 60s sound into his songs while still making them feel modern and not dated. They are touring their recent album “Retrofuture” which is the perfect description for them really. The set was a combination of their catalog really. We got five songs from Retrofuture, along with a song from most of their earlier albums, including three from their 1999 debut. But I have to admit to being puzzled by some of the choices. “Devil Girl” is one of their weakest songs and was right in the middle of the set. I also wish they would drop “FTW” from their set totally. Yes it harkens back to their earliest recordings, but it is trite and not at all where they are at these days. Form the new album they played the instrumental “Tercio del Muerte”, “Beyond the Veil”, “The Past Will Always Be”, “Devil that you Don’t Know”, and “Eyes of the Night”. Other songs included “Sea of Fire’, “Ghostfire”, ‘Santa Carla Twilight”, “Cupid’s Victim’, “Hechizo de Amor”, and “Dark and Lonely Night”.

The best part of the show for me was the encore: “Pipeline” (featuring a beautiful white Gretsch Falcon) and “Outlaw Heart”. he actually gave us the choice of which song we wanted to hear--“Outlaw Heart” or “Where the Moss Slowly Grows”. Outlaw Heart won and it was spectacular.

Was it a good show? Well it wasn’t bad. They played beautifully. This is the best version of the band he has ever put together. Drumming veteran Mike Fasano is solid as can be, and Djordje Stijepovic is an astonishingly good stand up bass player. Nick has his own model Gretsch now, and he has become a master of the art of twang. So the band is solid as a brick wall. But there was nothing truly special about this performance. The last time I saw them was at a tiny club: Beat Kitchen. Now that was electric. The band fed off the energy from the audience and it was an incredible show. But this? This was a thoroughly professional performance but there was no spark really. Blame it on it being a Sunday halfway though a long tour maybe. They had a curfew and couldn’t play as long as they did on other nights. Look, Nick said all the right things and they interacted with the audience a lot, but It must be hard to get up for it every night.

Then they were gone, and it was back to the Gman for more drinks with the members of Kate Clover, and the prospect of going to work in a handful of hours.