When was the last time you were affected profoundly, on an almost spiritual level, by a band? Take your time, I’ll wait…
For me, it was just three days ago at Spacebar in Columbus. I couldn’t escape the sensation that I was witnessing a trio that were making music that carried the very real feeling of being dangerous.
In this age of manufactured, disposable music, Cincinnati’s Tiger Sex play in your face like a solid punch to your solar plexus. Did they hit me in the “feels?” No. They positively destroyed the notion that you have to follow what’s trendy and that no one is willing to take a chance and blaze their own path.
Comprised of Kelly (vocals), Kei (guitar) and Troy Boy (drums), they are truly a force of nature blowing in like the freshest of breezes. They will kick your ass so completely that you will thank them when are through roughing you up.
After a rather quick line check, Kelly announced to the crowd, “We’re Tiger Sex!”
With those three words, they were off and running roughshod over our senses with the distinct Stooges-vibe influenced Dance Shoes. From Kei’s blistering guitar riffs to Kelly jumping off the stage, climbing onto a bar chair while commanding our attention, I knew I was in for something that I had not seen in a very long time.
The sonic assault of Prostitution washed over the crowd, as Kei coaxed a buzzsaw-filled, wah-induced evil surf guitar riff from his axe. The anger emanating from Kelly’s vocals perfectly complimented her presence on the stage, looking upon the crowd with a piercing gaze. It was reminiscent of early 70’s Iggy Pop, without a doubt.
The slower, grinding tempo of Red punched you in the head, recalling images of L7 in their heyday. Kei and Troy brought the pace to an almost bluesy feel, before cranking it back into a frenzy, as Kelly was deep within the crowd spitting the words with venom.
Turning up the heat, Destroy had Kelly climbing onto the p.a. system as she screamed the chorus, then jumping off and running through the crowd.
What I was witnessing in Kelly was what it must have been like if Iggy Pop and Lux Interior had a love child. The influence of the early days of garage rock/proto punk was unmistakable as I watched Kelly work the crowd, with every eyeball focused squarely on her. As she lay face-down on the stage while singing, the underlying beat was mesmerizing, working the audience into a frenzied mosh pit.
As the crowd clamored to be even closer to the stage riser, the driving tempo of Dirty Disease spewed forth. Kei took the song to a nasty space for an all-too-short stint, before falling back into the groove.
“Alright. Who wants to dance?” said Kelly, as Kei kicked off Tiger Walk with a heavy, MC5-influenced rock-n-roll riff. As the tune picked up tempo, Kelly climbed back up on the p.a., before screaming “1, 2, 3, 4!” then diving from the top of the stack and into the crowd. With Kei and Troy keeping the driving beat throbbing through our bodies, Kelly appeared back on the stage, while bringing two members of the crowd up to dance with her.
Alternating from standing on the kick drum to screaming from the top of the p.a. stack, Kelly was a whirling dervish of pent up energy that was released upon an exultant audience. I had not felt this alive from live music in so long that goosebumps were crawling over my arms throughout their set.
Kelly spat “We’re fucking Tiger Sex!” before they launched into the final song of their set, a cover of The Stooges classic I Wanna Be Your Dog. With Kei and Troy killing it with the beat and Kelly screaming the lyrics from atop a bar stool, the band made the song their own. At the bridge, Kelly dove into the audience and crowd surfed her way around the room, singing the final chorus from within the appreciative bodies.
If you missed out on seeing The Stooges, MC5, The Cramps or L7… you no longer have to weep quietly alone. Tiger Sex have a sound that is all of the best of what came before, while owning their vibe. They don’t sound dated.
On the contrary, they are fresh and will absolutely restore your faith in rock-n-roll.
Credit all images: Chad Kessler / MIMC
- Dance Shoes/I Don’t Care
- Got The ???
- Dirty Disease
- Tiger Walk
- Help Me?
- Fuck You!
- I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges cover)
Tiger Sex – Prostitution