22nd November | The Fleece

When experiencing the music of JAWS, it often feels as though you’re been transported through some sort of sonic kaleidoscope, plunged into a mysterious and unpredictable world of colour and vibrancy. On Wednesday, the Birmingham based band exhibited this, parading through hits and rarities from their two albums, delighting the dedicated attendance.

First on and hoping not to live up to their name was Chesterfield-based four-piece Trash, who delivered an opening display that was musically swooping. Visibly unhappy with the tight squeeze upon the stage, the band hurtled through a series of largely forgettable songs which sounded as though they could have been randomly thrown together from the main act’s rejected material, whilst appearing as disinterested as possible in their audience interaction, pushing across the band’s name after each tune. Promise was however shown through last track ‘Migraines’, which displayed a more sophisticated depth to their sound.

This was followed by the intriguing prospect of Danish outfit Nelson Can, delivering a heartier version of the often frivolous Scando-rock that seems to have thrust itself towards the forefront of the alternative scene over the past couple of years. Dressed completely in white and looking as if they’d be more at home on a court at Wimbledon than the stage at the Fleece, the all-female three-piece produced a gripping performance cloaked in mystery.

This is in fitting with the origin of the group, who were initially conceived by deciding to follow through on the lie they had told people that they were a successful band before having actually played a note. So too is their sound curiously enigmatic, omitting guitars from their music and relying instead upon the thumping bass-lines of Signe SigneSigne and the bombastic drumming of Maria Juntunen. Upon this is plastered the incredibly powerful vocals of Selina Gin, which simultaneously strike you like the harshest of storms and entice you like a caring friend. Highlights from the set included the hauntingly creepy ‘Downtown’ featuring hypnotic warrior-like chanting and ‘Miracle’, an alluringly smooth affair that culminated with Gin dancing in the crowd. As she blew a kiss goodbye, they were equally charmed and unnerved.

This barbarous appeal perfectly contrasted majestic calm of JAWS’ subsequent set. Appearing amongst a cloud of murky haze, the four-piece launched into crowd favourite ‘Surround You’, immediately sending those present into an ethereal dreamworld. Continuing with the theme of early hits, the band played ‘Time’ and ‘Think Too Much, Feel Too Little’, before exploring the more sophisticated sound of their second record in the form of ‘Work it Out’, their best work to date.

JAWS then played ‘Filth’, a track that they “hadn’t played in absolutely ages.” Offering a heavier faucet of their sound, this effectively displayed the remarkable range at their disposal. Highlight of the set came in the form of ‘Stay In’, a euphoric number which prompted a lively response from the crowd, intensifying the heat in the already sweaty venue. This was followed by the emotionally raw tale of youth ‘17’, an instrumentally bare effort that exaggerated the power of lead singer Connor Schofield’s vocals, equally relaxed as they are relaxing. Having sedated his audience, the young frontman delivered the killer line from debut single ‘Toucan Surf’ of, “Three words: Everything is okay”, and in that moment it would have been difficult to find anyone present who would dispute this.

The familiar jangles of ‘Gold’, sent everyone into rapturous jostling and signalled the end of a triumphant performance. Having played the Thekla with a near identical set list twelve months ago and having released little new material in the meantime, it is apparent that JAWS’ work has a sense of permanence to it, able not just to attract attention, but to maintain it.

Check out the latest single ‘Cast’ below.