Miniature Tigers at the Great American Music Hall, by Joshua Huver
Miniature Tigers (photo: Joshua Huver)

On a beautiful Sunday in September, Arizona-based indie lords Miniature Tigers descended on the Tenderloin for a show at Great American Music Hall.

These stark contrasts between the beautiful and the dark, subversive nature of reality come into play in several of the bands’ lyrics and compositional elements. This is especially true of their 2008 release, Tell It To The Volcano, released on September 16, 2008.

On September 16, 2018, the band celebrated the official 10th birthday of the record in San Francisco. The 15-song, two-encore performance covered all 11 tracks from the album and few selections from their other releases.

Miniature Tigers at the Great American Music Hall, by Joshua Huver

They opened with “Dino Damage” and “Like or Like Like,” two tracks from the anniversary album. 2010’s follow-up, FORTRESS, was the second most featured album of the evening, beginning with “Bullfighter Jacket.” In between songs, frontman Charlie Brand opened up to the crowd, revealing he was born in San Francisco. “I love this city!” he exclaimed.

More beautiful and serene animal imagery was used to convey horribly emotional pangs of reality in songs like “Giraffe” and “The Wolf.” “Gold Skull” and “Fortress,” a few more FORTRESS tracks, surfaced next. During the former, Brand stepped into the crowd, engaging the audience members on a personal level.

He remained in the crowd for both tracks, and returned to the stage for “Oblivious,” the first of several tracks from 2014’s Cruel Runnings.

Miniature Tigers at the Great American Music Hall, by Joshua Huver

During a brief pause between songs, the high energy and newly-added bassist asked the drummer, Rick Schaier, what his favorite beat was. Schaier obliged, and the bassist retorted, “Tell it to the volcano!” As the band lunged into their reversion to caveman revenge that is the album’s title track.

All night long, the band’s attitude was loose and enjoyable, and the fun they were having onstage proved contagious. One of the warmest observations I had during the concert was the youth in the crowd. Among the most eager and excited fans were teens that had recently discovered Miniature Tigers. I was elated to see a new generation of fans loving the same music I had discovered and fallen in love with years ago.

A few more Cruel Runnings tracks were also played. “Boomerang” and “Swimming Pool Blues” were met with huge acclaim as well as the song “Used To Be The Shit.” The set ended with the song that closes the album out, “Last Night’s Fake Blood.”

For the encore, Brand returned solo for “Tchaikovsky and Solitude” before being joined by the rest of the band. They closed the evening with their most popular hit single, “Cannibal Queen.”

Opening act Jasper Bones performed very well. Although the set started out slow, the crowd quickly warmed up and by the end of his nine-song set, the building was bustling. One of the most memorable highlights of the opening set was a cover of Amy Winehouse’s version of “Valerie.”