Better than…sitting around complaining about modern music and listening to your old Depeche Mode albums.
Los Angeles-born synthpop duo Father Tiger tease their fans with sporadic YouTube videos and performance dates. Last night they played Kitty Kitty Bang Bang's XMESS party — which doubled as a Toys for Tots drive — to an enraptured crowd at Boardner's.
Father Tiger use analog synths, bright percussion and throaty vocals to create an upbeat and playful sound, which nonetheless has something somber at its heart. They take clear influence from OMD and Alphaville, but throw in modern beats and tones. It can best be described as a blissful songwriting marriage of Andy McCluskey and Robyn.
Vocalist Greg Delson stepped behind the keys a couple of times, but spent most of the set taking on the role of dramatic front man. He had the showman's charisma of Morrissey and even occasionally the boldness of Neil Tennant. Meanwhile the other half of Father Tiger, John Russell, positioned himself as a playful Wizard of Oz, dancing while controlling keys and programming from behind a metal stand.
The second song was a ghostly holiday track with sweeping vocals and windy breaks that's grounded in a steady synth beat, and is available for free download on their website. It's great.
Later came a cover of Adele's “Set Fire to the Rain.” It wasn't immediately obvious what it was from the ethereal and dark intro, but it only took a couple measures before the crowd picked up on what was happening. “Set Fire to the Rain” is widely-covered today, and Father Tiger's rendition is one of the best.
The crowd seemed to know and enjoy every song equally, ie nothing stood out as a fan favorite or the band's anthem. The duo proved themselves versatile songwriters, with the heartbreak dance track “Til The Morning” followed immediately by the sway-inducing ballad “Right Now”. While everything had a distinct personality, there seemed to be a Father Tiger signature that ran through them all.
Personal Bias: Synthpop is the best pop and best use of synthesizer.
Random Notebook Dump: Despite their not having officially released anything, the audience was dancing and singing along to every song in the set.
The Crowd: Well groomed, sweater wearing office staff types that knew how to have a good time.
Set list below.
Lose Our Minds
On Christmas Day
Til The Morning
Really Want To Know
Set Fire To The Rain