With Schofield as half-arsed as he sings, it’s up to the rest of the band to pull out the banter, joking about freshers and crowd-surfing.
Tonight, Jaws step tentatively into their first Bristol headline show and do not disappoint. Bringing fresh material to the table, expectations are high among the fans who pack out the Exchange.
They kick off with the title track of yesterday’s brand new debut ‘Be Slowly’, a gobbledygook clap-along that no Cure fan can listen to and not be ecstatic. It’s a classic Jaws song with dreamy guitar effects and a confusing – yet hooky – chorus.
The new album tracks go down a treat, ‘Home’ is a grungy delight, like a darker version of last year’s single ‘Donut’, and sparks an angry moshpit. ‘Sunset State’ is twinkly and typically Jaws. According to self-deprecating singer Connor Schofield, though, it has ‘too many words’ and he ‘doesn’t know why he wrote it’. While a beautiful album track in its own right, it leaves the keen-for-moshing crowd a little lost as they wait for some kind of break from the repetitive lyrics.
In between songs Schofield appears about as arsed as he sings, unable to look anywhere but the floor, the mic and the ceiling. It’s up to the rest of the band to pull out the banter, joking about freshers and asking rather politely for more crowdsurfers.
The entirety of last year’s ‘Milkshake’ EP is played tonight, a real treat for hardcore fans in the house. ‘Stay In’ gets its usual ear-deafening singalong and ‘Toucan Surf’ is a synth-heavy romantic number that gets the moshers swaying and swooning. The old songs show how far Jaws have come in the past year – their career-making set at Reading Festival last year was ecstatically received but a bit rough around the edges. Now, they play the same songs flawlessly and fearlessly, Schofield teasing the crowd with his vocals.
One of the songs that got them where they are today, ‘Surround You’, sounds even better live than on record with it’s cascading synths and massive chorus. Jaws might be under-appreciated by critics at times, but have a sturdy fanbase because they make music that actually stirs people. It’s melodic, feel-good music that’s unpretentious and representative of what they are – four guys making music they like, influenced by bands they like, for like-minded people. They’re not trying to reach out to the masses. Once you get past the sometimes nonsensical lyrics, Jaws unfathomably manage to bring together the sounds of New Order and The Cure at their most upbeat, as well as Nirvana’s 90’s grunge, and evoke a kind of summery bliss. Somehow, it works perfectly.
The band don’t leave the stage for an encore because they accurately note that there’s ‘nowhere to go’. They stay right there and carry on, last summer’s brilliant single ‘Gold’ gets people going crazy. The two riffs in the song work perfectly together to create a song so summery it might as well be used on a Haven advert. The singalong is intense and the song even sees a few stage-divers giving the band just what they wanted. It’s the least they could do, after Jaws finally give Bristol fans what they wanted.
Check out ‘Gold’ right here: