Fronted by the magnetic and disarming Meghan Kreidler, who draws on her background in theater to break the fourth wall between audience and band with her righteous fist pumps and high kicks, this is a band that doesn’t just play. They combust. And watching them set the stage ablaze, it’s hard not to feel that tension that’s been built up in all of us these past few years slowly release, too, like a collective exhale set to ratcheting guitars, buoyant bass lines and Kreidler’s perfectly pitched screams.
Over the past few years Kiss the Tiger have set the Twin Cities ablaze, and there’s nary a club, block party, park amphitheater or backyard that they haven’t transformed with their commanding live shows. And their rigorous performance schedule has paid off: The band has never sounded tighter or more certain of its mission. Kreidler is backed on stage by her longtime partner and creative foil, Michael Anderson, on rhythm guitar, plus lead guitarist Bridger Fruth, bassist Paul DeLong, and drummer Jay DeHut.
Their sets are often accompanied by sing-alongs to regional hits like the hard-knocking “Motel Room,” their ode to pandemic loneliness, “I Miss You,” or their pleading anthem “Hold On to Love,” all of which have become instantly recognizable to locals thanks to regular airplay on the tastemaking public radio station 89.3 The Current.
Their latest album, Vicious Kid, is a tour de force through the band’s increasingly sophisticated songwriting, which is handled jointly by Kreidler and Anderson. There are plenty of moments where they embody the spirit of late ‘70s new wave punk, like in the ridiculously fun “Who Does Her Hair?” But they have started weaving in softer textures, too, like the crooning and feminist alt-country ballad “Grown Ass Woman” or the skeletal and simmering “Out of My Mind.” Unsurprisingly, Vicious Kid was named one of the Best Minnesota Albums of 2021 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and highlighted as their longtime critic Chris Riemenschneider’s personal favorite that year.
In addition to exploring a wider variety of sounds and genres, Vicious Kid also features some of Kiss the Tiger’s most thought-provoking lyrics to date. In “Grown Ass Woman,” Kreidler pleads, and then demands, that she be allowed to cut her own path in this world—a message that dovetails seamlessly with Kiss the Tiger’s approach to making music. “The angel of death wants me to draw another breath/But angel won’t you leave me alone,” she sings and sighs. “Even near the end not a foe or a friend/Is gonna tell me what to do.”
In addition to headlining their own barn-burning shows, Kiss the Tiger have also been tapped to open for prominent acts like Lake Street Dive, The Suburbs, Ike Reilly, Jackie Venson, Black Joe Lewis, and Daughtry. They have also brought their act on the road to open for Philly’s Low Cut Connie, Austin’s Emily Wolfe, and fellow Minneapolis indie favorites Bad Bad Hats. Given how quickly they’ve won over the Twin Cities, Kiss the Tiger are poised to roar into more markets soon. Their transcendent, heart-forward rock and roll is right on time.