LIVE: Tigers Jaw / Culture Abuse / Muskets @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester

By Liam Knowles

The Deaf Institute in Manchester, with its quaint decor and observatory-like layout, is the perfect setting for an evening of simple, heartfelt music. Opening act Muskets waste no time filling it with their grunge-tinged pop-punk, and despite being billed first and hailing all the way from Brighton they clearly have fans and friends in the audience who lap up every note.

Main support Culture Abuse get the response of a headline act; their unique blend of melodic punk and garage rock igniting the crowd. The set is almost entirely made up of songs from 2016’s ‘Peach’ and are delivered with the energy and intensity of a much heavier band. Vocalist David Kelling, whose on-stage persona is that of a punk-rock Shaun Ryder, has rock swagger coming from every orifice as he belts out infectious tracks like ‘Jealous’ and ‘Chinatown’. New single ‘So Busted’ is a more chilled out affair and it will be interesting to see if this is indicative of a new direction on their next release.

It’s easy to forget how many well-crafted, memorable tracks Tigers Jaw have got in their repertoire until you see them live and they play pretty much all of them. Opening with a three-hit combo of ‘Follows’, ‘Frame You’ and ‘The Sun’, the Pennsylvania emo heroes instantly have the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand. The band sounds incredible, with all layers and textures clear and balanced, and hit much harder live than on record thanks largely to their powerful drummer.

Due to the short length of most of the tracks, Tigers Jaw keep up an impressive momentum as they steam through a 20(ish) track set spanning their entire back catalogue. Fan favourites like ‘Chemicals’ and ‘I Saw Water’ sit comfortably aside the new album songs, but it’s the material from 2014’s ‘Charmer’ that gets the best response. Dual vocalists Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh harmonise perfectly over the pop charm of ‘Nervous Kids’ and the glistening ‘Distress Signal’, and the encore of ‘Hum’ is the perfect way to end a completely flawless set.

Despite being a band for 11 years, Tigers Jaw still feel incredibly fresh and relevant. This, coupled with a strong support lineup, make tonight a perfect showcase of 2017’s musical climate. There may be a lot of garbage out there, but there are plenty bands of this calibre bubbling away under the surface of the mainstream. Take the time to dig them out so you don’t miss out on wonderful, charming nights like this one.