On stage, surrounded by mountains of Foster The People gear, you could tell The Box Tiger were a little out of their element on Friday night. I don’t mean this in a bad way – just that you could tell that performing as an acoustic three-piece wasn’t quite the norm for the Toronto band.
Though The Box Tiger has made waves locally with their infectious indie rock, it was evident that the supporting slot was obviously a big one for the band – and an opportunity they definitely seemed to appreciate.
The stripped down set saw them lose a member (they usually perform as a quartet) and, as one might expect, they had to rearrange their material accordingly. Add to that the fact they were opening one heck of an intimate gig for one of the biggest pop rock bands in the business and, well, you can forgive them for coming off as slightly anxious.
By the time The Box Tiger took to the stage at 9:30, the Horseshoe Tavern had filled in considerably for the instantly sold-out Foster The People show. “We’re always nervous in these settings, so thank you for being so nice,” vocalist and guitarist Sonia Sturino told the crowd early on in their opening set.
Sturino’s voice carried much of the acoustic performance, a highlight on “Hospital Choir” (off of 2013 debut Set Fire) and comparable to Paramore’s Hayley Williams in timbre. In their half-hour opening slot, they also managed to squeeze in a quick cover of Liz Phair’s “Glory” and a rare performance of “Julian,” a song that the band doesn’t normally play live, Sturino noted. It was a surprise to hear that, given how well it comes off. It was drummer Lauren Chan – who switched out his full kit for a stripped down setup of a single drum, xylophone, and synth for the night – that gave the song real spark, the percussive elements working well to accompany Sturino’s voice and Jordan Stowell’s guitar.
It was nice to see The Box Tiger enjoy themselves and appreciate the moment, as they’re no doubt deserving of it. Their set, though brief and atypical, was a good indicator of the band’s full potential.
The Box Tiger’s Sonia, Jordan and Lauren were also our very first special guests on the Capsule Podcast.