Music

Celebrate Good Times

One Last Hurrah for Tigers Jaw

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POP-PUNK sometimes feels like my generation's disco. It's our secret handshake. It's a guilty pleasure that we can all safely celebrate and laugh about now. And yes, a lot of it was horrible.

But some of it was actually great. Green Day didn't make a bad record until the turn of the century; Saves the Day's Through Being Cool is an utterly fantastic album, cover to cover; and if you strain hard enough, Brand New's Your Favorite Weapon sounds sort of like a bizarre version of Elvis Costello's Blood and Chocolate. (Comparatively, Donna Summer's Once Upon a Time—produced by the recently exhumed Giorgio Moroder—is also ready for critical reevaluation.)

Tigers Jaw formed in 2005 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and were one of the few pop-punk bands capable of making the distinction between good and bad. As a result, they encapsulated all the best aspects of the genre and virtually none of the worst. This is not to say they were light on corn—it comes with the territory. But their execution eclipses the content: Vocalists Adam Mcilwee and Ben Walsh sang lines like, "I took the night off/became the dumbest thing ever" (in the song "Coil/Recoil," off of what I guess qualifies as their swan song now, 2010's Two Worlds) with so much heartbreaking conviction that they're immediately absolved of poetic transgression.

Tigers Jaw are now on their final tour—with a slightly castrated lineup that includes Walsh, keyboardist Brianna Collins, and an assortment of fill-in musicians. Absent is Mcilwee, a founding member and indispensable contributor to the band's songwriting and identity; also missing are bassist Dennis Mishko and drummer Pat Brier, although it wasn't intended that way. The band were in the process of gearing up for a comprehensive tour, including dates in the UK, until Brier, Mishko, and Mcilwee abruptly announced their departure from the group in March. Collins and Walsh, determined to persevere given the circumstances, announced a farewell tour, and although the group has certainly been in finer form, Collins and Welsh's intent doesn't appear to be a cash-in or capitalistic in nature. This is merely a celebration of a stellar band and the meaningful art it produced.

So go see Tigers Jaw one last time. Buy their records if you haven't already. Let your hair down and soak in the collective ecstasy that live pop-punk—and, sure, disco—can provide.

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