Taking Lessons from Miniature Tigers

“I should be on Charlie’s list?” I say, a lilt in my voice that infers that I am unsure.  A petite girl scans a white piece of paper and hands me a blue sticker.  “This gets you upstairs,” she says.  I walk through the darkened stairwells of Webster Hall, arriving at a mezzanine cantilevered over a crowd I am normally a part of.  I watch them walk with their cups filled with alcohol, all waiting for the buzz to kick in, the welcome fuzziness of not having to think, thick like the foam on top of their beers.

On stage, a curly haired girl in a 70s jumper writhes on the floor, bringing to mind a pre-famous Katy Perry, playing for A & R reps in small, glamourless rooms.  The upstairs floor gives with the weight of us on it, as well as the motion of those below, creating a trampoline-effect in a building I would prefer to remain stationary.

Charlie is there attempting to enjoy whatever time he has before he takes the stage as the lead singer of Miniature Tigers, a band I have been following for the last few years, back when Charlie only had a demo and a Myspace page.  He is wearing a bulky red coat made out some something reminiscent of felt.  He has grown out his beard in an abridged version of something Kurt Cobain might have sported while he was still of the living, sleeping in Seattle and playing guitar in a ripped up hoodie.

The last show I saw of Charlie’s was nearly a year and a half ago, in the hall of a hip, renovated motel that left condoms and earplugs on the bedside table.  I know; I stayed there.  Before that, I had caught him in a tiny venue in LA, on the eastern portion of Sunset Boulevard.  Since then, then has toured the country and had his last album produced by Neon Indian.  This is a thing evolving.

We talk for as long as we can about touring, Brooklyn, whatever.  This is the last stop on their tour, an experience Charlie seems to have rather enjoyed.  I am happy to see him here, about to play for a big New York City crowd on a stage I think he deserves.

He takes off, disappearing from the mezzanine and appearing on the stage below, tuning his guitar and wandering the stage.  The filler music dies down and the lights dim.  Miniature Tigers plays, flanked by paper tulips and awash in green lights.  “You guys are lovely,” Charlie says, just a leader singer to a crowd of people who don’t know him.

The band dives into music that is perfect in its awkwardness.  The beats that are nearly right but nearly wrong, the pitch of Charlie’s voice.  I watch the crowd bob their heads below and I am overcome with the pride of someone else’s accomplishments.  We are all just waiting for our tipping points, the moments when life suddenly catches up to us, when all of the decisions we have made over the course of our lives seem to amount to something greater than the unnoticed catalysts they had been in the past.

Photo courtesy of LAist.com