15th November | Fleece

On the opening night of the Birmingham four-piece’s tour, JAWS was backlit by a stage lights that bordered the band’s name, also spelled out in lights, with smoke pouring into the crowd and eventually out onto the streets outside of The Fleece.

Opening with tracks from their recently-released third album, The Ceiling, the ethereal atmosphere visually and musically was emblematic of a balance that the band looks to find in their music: something between being overwhelmed and nihilistic. Throughout their set, there was a search for answers, or a resolution to confusion. On ‘Just a Boy’ or on ‘Stay In’, lead singer, Connor Schofield sang, “Tell me what you do/ If I don’t hear from you,” because when you don’t know the answer to something, your mind is usually your worst enemy. There was no better example of this recurring dichotomy of ‘all or nothing’ emotional turmoil than during, ‘Think Too Much, Feel Too Little’.

Their latest record expands their sounds with more songs that have focused, rhythmic breakdowns in the place of the more punk- and angst-driven songs on their earlier records, Simplicity and Be Slowly. However, for JAWS, the variety of their performance and music is their dexterity and ability to have an album that’s one genre and and also ten.

JAWS’ nu-gaze and dream-pop sound stands out in a genre where laissez-faire is the status quo. Each song has a different influence from a band spanning the decades, from Bowie to The Cure to Dinosaur Jr. to Slowdive.

After talking about the extreme poles in JAWS’ music, at a base level, it’s catchy and infectious rock music. For the crowd, the music resonated as a release and as a communal gathering for when you’re at the stage when you’re mind is oscillating between extremes. It’s one of the universals of growing up. On ’17’, Schofield again sings about what he doesn’t want to feel. Hypothetically, if he knew what he wanted to feel or if he already felt it, then either he skipped this phase of life or he’s lying.

Also, respect to Schofield for wearing a JAWS hoodie for most of their set, with the band’s name in glowing lights as a backdrop. He made it look cool, which is interesting because when I first started going to gigs, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there was an arbitrary mantra of never going to see a band wearing their own t-shirt. It was a different time.

My point is that JAWS’ music creates a space for expression and confusion and hyperbole, even if it’s a raw release not directed towards anything. The swirling smoke and lights that accented the ambience of the set, along with the tapping of the hi-hat and syncopated rhythms, moved you in your own way, along with everyone else.

See the video for ‘End of the World’ here: