Last weekend, Melbourne-based band The Tiger & Me played to a tiny audience in Curtin’s Beyond Q bookshop. The performance was part of a tour to support their most recent album, The Drifter’s Dawn, released in 2012. The performance was unusual for a couple of reasons, the first being the size of the venue. The second was the fact that they were in Canberra at all. The original plan for the tour was to completely avoid the ACT. However, as band frontman Ade Vincent informed the keen – if not very numerous – crowd, the band decided that a Canberra performance would complete the tour, and insisted that one be booked, no matter how small it was. Which is, if nothing else, nice to hear.
The Tiger & Me are no strangers to the Canberra music scene. They performed at the 2012 National Folk Festival and have since made numerous visits to smaller locations around the ACT. The Tiger & Me have, to date, released one album and two EPs; the current release is intended, with the EPs, to create a trilogy. They also have plans to release a live album later this year.
It is hard to sum up the band’s style, given that they make a point of creating a variety of music – they have a sort of dramatic, indie-meets-circus feel, complete with accordion. The songs range from slow folksy ballads to loud riotous tracks that use rhythm and volume to great effect. They were inspired by a range of diverse subjects, including Spain, mental illness, family, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, which is, let’s face it, about as inspirational as you get. The three lead vocalists complemented each other well, and each new song was accompanied by an increasingly bizarre collection of instruments. Accordionist Tobias Selkirk showed perhaps the most remarkable range; he spent time on the keyboard, the guitar, and the banjo, and is also one of the main vocalists, having penned many of the band’s best songs.
Having seen The Tiger & Me draw large crowds at their previous venues, it was somewhat surreal to see them playing an entire set in front of about twenty people, some of whom, it seemed, had been lured in solely with the promise of bargain-table books. It did give the performance an intimate feeling, though, and it allowed the band more freedom. At one point Vincent and Hendry dispensed with microphones and electronic aids, stepped out directly into the crowd and performed a couple for songs entirely acoustically. The situation was entirely different to one of their more typical concerts.
The Tiger & Me have plans to return to Canberra in November for a rather more large-scale affair. This ticketed performance will, again, focus on their new album, with a comfortable mix of older songs. Although it will be nice to see the band return to their usual sized venues and crowds, the late-night bookshop atmosphere and intimate nature of the gig provided an entirely unique experience.