Sometimes You Can Do: Kiss the Tiger @ Turf Club “I Love Lucy” Style

Recently, the conversation of covers, tributes, and remixes has continuously been popping up in my life: whether it be my coworkers and I discussing Luke Comb’s recent cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” or my finding a heartwrenching John Prine cover of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” So on Saturday morning, as I was rushing out of Claddagh Coffee, it seemed like a poke from the universe that I saw a poster advertising Kiss the Tiger’s Lucinda Williams Valentine’s Day tribute show: “I Love Lucy.” Over drinks that very night, I urged my co manager C.C. Servon, and staff member Jane Skjonsby to accompany me to what I knew would be – to be plain – an awesome night.

That being said, a tribute show is tricky. I’ve watched as venues all around the country have turned into repetitive old mills that churn out bands doing the same 10 covers of the same 10 white guys, and honestly, it has gotten stale. So what makes a Lucinda Williams tribute show different from the rest? Well for one, Williams is still very much alive. To tribute an artist that was touring less than a year ago is a bold and exciting choice: one that only a band like Kiss the Tiger could make. Frontwoman Meghan Kriedler led the charge on that snowy Valentine’s Day in Turf Club, and with her power and rawness, it was easy for a second to forget that we were at a tribute show. Offering a mix of classic Williams songs like “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” “Drunken Angel,” and “Metal Firecracker,” everyone’s most basic physiological needs were met that night. It made us feel like we were hearing these songs for the first time again, but it was the sleeper hits that shocked us. Williams’s “Honeybee” was an unexpected track, and to see what Kiss the Tiger did with it was nothing short of awesome. I’d dare to say it became the best track of the night, an uncovered Williams’s song that even the diehard fans behind us had not previously heard. 

 Kriedler’s combustive energy paired with the band’s electric chemistry created a whirlwind of whiplash. Switching from the blues/rock/punk energy of “Honeybee” to the gut-wrenching “Fruits of My Labor,” Kiss the Tiger kept the crowd on their toes for a set that seemed to never end. 

There’s something to be said about what it means to pay tribute to a woman of Williams’s caliber. Especially when in Kriedler’s case, she wasn’t familiar with most of Williams’s discography until recently. This, paired with Kiss the Tiger’s conventionally beautiful voice and style, made it a truly unexpected tribute show. Lucinda Williams is by definition, unconventional. There are so many factors that play into her unconventionality: the way she writes about sex, the many genres she is able to embody, but possibly most noticeable of all: her voice. A raspy, oftentimes grating voice, that creates some of the most raw music I’ve heard in my lifetime. So what do you do when your band has to emulate a voice like that, but you have– frankly– too pretty of a voice? You don’t. You make it your own, which is what Kiss the Tiger did time and time again on that snowy St. Paul night. Kriedler even clarified that they are not a tribute band. 

“We are a band that plays original music, and this is the only tribute show we do. They [the audience] know us for our band, which allows us the freedom to take ownership of everything.” 

And Kriedler was right, it was clear people were there to support Kiss the Tiger’s sound, not to see an exact replica of Williams’s discography. The band is a well-loved staple in the Twin Cities, seeing as during our interview fans kept interrupting to offer their accolades. Even WMCN has been a fan of Kiss the Tiger for a long time! A quick search through our archives saw that long before any of the current managers were employed, Kiss the Tiger played in the WMCN studio back in 2017! 

Kiss the Tiger, made up of Kriedler, and bandmates Bridger Fruth, Paul DeLong, Jay DeHut, Diane Miller, and Michael Anderson, has been doing this Valentine’s Day tribute show for two years now, and I can’t think of a better place to be on national love day. There’s plenty of love songs for those who’ve got their Valentines, even in Kiss the Tiger, as Kriedler introduced her rhythm guitar player Michael Anderson has her forever Valentine. But, as Kriedler so eloquently put it, love can also suck, and Williams has plenty of songs for those who have been burned by love. “Joy” and “Can’t Let Go” were some fan favorites, sandwiched between Williams’s most yearnful songs like “Righteously” and “Drunken Angel.” 

The perfect Valentine’s Day could only be topped by the first snow of the year falling during Kiss the Tiger’s closing song “Minneapolis.” There couldn’t have been a more serendipitous ending to that kind of night. And as we trudged through the foot of snow, Jane, C.C, and I discussed the show. I had said a mere few days ago regarding Luke Comb’s and Tracy Chapman that you “can’t outdo the doer.” And though that may be true, sometimes you can do. And you can do it pretty damn well.

Check out our interview with Meghan Kriedler, edited by our very own C.C. Servon!

Kiss the Tiger I Love Lucy Interview

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