Weeknight local rock shows are pretty regimented. You figure out what time to show up based on which band you want to catch (and which you don’t), allocating a few minutes to hit the bar, get properly sauced, and maybe chat up a bird or two. And chances are there’s a common musical theme, whether it be guitar bands playing indie or folk kids being mopy or whatever the new laptop thing from Brooklyn is.
So imagine the indie-rock chaos (read: mild confusion, a few strained necks, and a handful of barely audible WTFs) on an otherwise indie-rock night at Great Scott September 13 when alleged headliners Mighty Tiny flipped the script and — OMG! — opened the show with a Mardi Gras–like thump, wearing Venetian masks and second-hand suits, and causing a commotion for the sober early birds.
Maybe it was fitting, this element of surprise and deviation from the aural norm, as little about Mighty Tiny fits into the realm of the usual. From the Vaudeville vibe to the commedia dell’arte masks (perhaps the best use of headwear since drug-warped French bandits robbed that bank in Killing Zoe), Mighty Tiny aren’t your typical Berklee-birthed, Allston-based rock band.
“We call it circus rock, but that’s a very loose term,” says Mighty Tiny guitarist and co-vocalist Matt Tompkins. “We combine ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, punk, blues, jazz, and even hip-hop. We try to push it.”
Like a showered Gogol Bordello playing sophisticated carny music for the steampunk set, Mighty Tiny offer throwback that’s intricate and inviting, even if there is a distinct invisible barrier between audience and band. Blame the masks, perhaps.
“It’s a strange gimmick, but we don’t want to make it our gimmick,” says Tompkins. “It’s kinda a cool way to detach yourself from the crowd. Slipknot already did it, but we’re more regal.”
Their next gig is another early show, but this one’s expected: Mighty Tiny open up the Electric Six/Constellations gig at the Middle East September 23. Bring your own mask.