While they only opened the show last night at The Space, the recent EP release party (and the impending buzz around their show at the Ike Box on June 16th) is making Showtigers out to be one of the new acts to keep an eye on this summer. Last year saw them put out the “Passing Crowd” single, something they expanded upon with their “Smoke & Mirrors” EP this year, entirely recorded and produced by the band. For something this home-brewed, the production is very focused and mature for a group so young.  (None of the Showtigers are old enough to stay in the bar during the show, let alone to have the years of recording experience that usually produces audio like this.)  

Even more impressive is the way these guys know their way around a stage. Not only do these kids have a sense of style and fashion that is aware of the last several decades and entirely speaks to their own interpretation, they also take their Garage Rock moniker fairly seriously, busting out riffs and jams that are not only referencing at least 50 years of rock music know-how, but percolate these sounds through a tiger’s filter.  Showtigers have an understanding of the relationship between performance and good chops, between song and audience.

And there’s a wisdom to their words that seems beyond their years.  The line, “I can’t wait until they find that you’re the cancer,” not only speaks to a relationship that has quite a bit of mileage at stake, but a kind of awareness that isn’t merely fueled by the adolescent desire to rock out and strut. There’s a little more going on here than partying and being young, but don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty of that.  And their interest in grunge and weightier sounds doesn’t undermine the hookiness and fun of this group.  From start to finish, Showtigers captured the audience’s imagination, and more than one person suggested that these kids understand the mission that we are all on, that we all must do what we can to save rock and roll at all costs, no matter what it takes.  

I should probably put all my cards on the table while I can: there were a few quibbles that I had with their reliance on too many well-trod blues tropes, and there was a song – “Sunburnt Shoulders” – that contained a MC Paul Barman-esque “rap” that, while entertaining, felt out of place among some of their stronger tunes.  But these elements only made this fan like them a little more. They do not give a fuck, in the end. This is one of their songs. It goes with all their others. Take it or leave it, it won’t stop them from playing it, and more.  You can almost hear the evolution of their riffs and songwriting as they went through their catalog last night, and those glimpses into the lives of bands as they are coming up are always fascinating to this listener.  

If nothing else, their gig at the Ike Box on June 16th is worth supporting because you can see an excellent cross-section of the music in Salem in a place where the kids have the better footing.  As an older music fan, I can often become complacent in my own rock and roll tropes, and my desire for bourbon paired with loud music. These All Ages gigs are not only where this kind of music comes from, but is a good way to help ensure shows like this keep happening, and that bands like this are able to come together at all.  

(Showtigers, Feel Connected, Orchards, Wild Ire at The Ike Box June 16th.  $5. Show starts at 7 PM.)