LIVE: Tigers Jaw / Moose Blood / Cascade @ West Track Studios, Canterbury [02/08/2013]

By Ben Tipple

Image courtesy of Dan Corder

The announcement that underground heroes Tigers Jaw would be playing a last-minute warm-up show at a considerably low capacity studio in Kent caused more than a few stirs amongst music fans. Following the departure of three of the original members, the band’s highly anticipated support slot for The Menzingers on their UK tour is likely to be their last – meaning tonight could be one of the final times to catch the band in any environment in the UK, never mind a ridiculously intimate floor show.

A combination of a tiny room and a load of people crammed into it means the venue tonight is at boiling point, by the time Cascade take to the floor for their blend of Lemuria style indie-punk with a rockier twist, things are suitably sweaty. Prefixed by a moving dedication to their recently deceased friend, nothing seems to hold them back from a heartfelt performance. At only fifteen minutes long, the shortness of the set offers a welcome opportunity to grab some fresh air before Kent inhabitants Moose Blood give it a go.

On form as ever, frontman Eddy Brewerton’s vocals have come a long way since I last caught them. Cracked in all the right places, they sit mesmerizingly on-top of some cleverly crafted compositions. Moose Blood may be increasingly chased by a pack of emo-revival bands, yet they keep themselves upfront with an unrivalled level of raw passion. The new material on display tonight in particular grasps at rougher edges.

As Tigers Jaw – on this leg accompanied by members of Brand New and Basement – break into their opening track, the West Track Studios are at melting point. It’s at the point now where water in being handed out to the sixty or so strong crowd and Tigers Jaw show no sign of letting the heat get to them. Expressing their excitement at playing a small, DIY floor show, they deliver a set filled with fan-favourites from ‘Plane vs Tank vs Submarine’ to ‘I Saw Water’. Perhaps due to the sweltering temperature, the crowd are not as ferocious as they could be, but it is clear from distant ramblings that this has been something special for many of them. When a snare drum is taken ill, the short rest-bite sees some renewed vigour from the direction of the crowd.

Despite this being the first time the band have played together in a live setting, tonight’s show is seriously excellent. Not defined by crowd participation, by rigorous energy, or even by heat – instead this is a very rare opportunity to see an accomplished band play without restraint. For a city far removed from any commercial touring schedules Canterbury has enjoyed a unique event, miles apart from the often faceless performances of major venues.