Intergalactic Premiere: Tight Tiger
While it didn’t generate the same Cheeseland buzz as this weekend’s Packer vs. Seahawks game will, there was plenty to cheer about at Wednesday night’s world premiere of Tight Tiger. Lead singer/songwriter Brian Knapp’s new quartet turned a birthday show in honor of a local keyboardist into a rollicking dance party. Knapp has one of the purest voices in a town filled with good singers. His songwriting — a style that charges hard into Capricorn-era Southern rock with a twangy twist of Bakersfield — has taken off like a rocket in the short time since his days with his former band, the more soft-spoken Ghost Town Council.
Tight Tiger’s bassit Mason Aumanstal and Knapp played together for eight years in Ghost Town Council. Yearning for something new, they put a two-page ad on Craiglist for “a serious guitar player with an open mind.” In addition to the duds and crackheads that kind of ad invites, the 20-something and brimming with energy Beau Osland emerged. They only needed a drummer. Osland had seen gifted drummer Ginny Kincaid in her former Madison band, Boob Dylan. After one night sitting in at the band practice, and she was in.
Long and tall, Knapp is a happy, gutsy performer — not afraid to experiment with his vocals, even in these new songs. “Come on In” is a truth or dare number that rumbles hard in front of Kincaid’s drumming. On this tune, as with most, Aumanstal’s harmonies intertwined with Knapp’s and created a carefree sound that held its sharp edge. Some duos sing well together. Others clearly relish the act. Knapp and Aumanstal are the latter. And, while a few miscues caused some late entries and early aborts with a chorus here and there, the raw strength of the songs helped mask how new this material really is.
There’s something devlishly enticing about seeing a band that has clearly put in the work but has yet to perform. Tight Tiger held the room by the tail on sweetly chosen covers, too. A balls-out version of the Derailers’ “Bar Exam” seemed custom-built for Knapp and company and brought some Austin heat to a frigid Wisconsin night. Tight Tiger will release an EP late this winter, and by then these tunes will be tightened and tested. That said, “Hold My Hand” is rock-ready for The Jayhawks if they’re in the market. Played toward the end of their set, and with four-part harmony, lead guitarist Beau Osland showed that he is indeed one tight tiger.