Tiger Army’s tenth annual October Flame was hosted at the Wiltern this year. Night one was alive with energy from one of the most consistently loyal fan bases I have ever seen for any band. There were some sound issues, but the band rocked through them and by night two the sound and lighting were as on point as the band.
The night opened up with “Prelude: Tercio de Muerte”, the opening track from their September 2019 release, Retrofuture. The set included new Retrofuture releases along with old fan favorites and rarities. Legendary steel pedal guitarist Bob “Boo” Bernstein joined the band for “Where the Moss Slowly Grows” and “In the Orchard” during the encore. The thing about a Tiger Army shows is that it is always evident, without fail, the band is having so much damn fun.
Singer Nick 13 nearly always has a playful grin on his face as he looks out into the crowd, and when the grin is absent, it doesn’t take long for it to spread back across his face. He and bassist Djordje have so many instances and shared moments that exude nothing short of pure joy in playing together and Mike Fasano is an absolute joyous animal on the drums.
The Rockabilly scene can be heavily steeped in dedication to the lifestyle, Nick 13 prefaces the Tiger Army anthem, “Never Die” with an all-inclusive, inviting reminder… something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter what clothes you wear, what hairstyle you have, if this music speaks to you, you are part of the Tiger Army, and we make this music for YOU.” Now I’m paraphrasing here, but that is the gist of it, and without fail the crowd erupts into a raucous chant of “Never Die!” with clenched fists pumping into the thick, steamy air.
The music drips in dark romance, narrating tales of lost loves, outlaws and open roads. There is also a deep sense of camaraderie in it. So many of Tiger Army’s lyrics deal with seizing life, taking the chance, living loud, living through pain and in the end, outliving death. Because after all… Tiger Army never dies.
Tiger Army’s new album Retrofuture is available now and the band is embarking on the European leg of their tour, ending with a show in Mexico City this December.