LIVE: Jaws @ The Warehouse, Birmingham

By Ashwin Bhandari

Despite the fact that various indie acts blend over into other genres,  fanbase divides in music genres are still very much alive in 2016. While Jaws’ brand of emo influenced synth pop could quite easily be enjoyed by your average Turnover or Title Fight fan, the atmosphere for tonight is clearly dominated by the youthful energy of Birmingham’s indie scene. Their contemporaries Swim Deep and Peace may have played bigger venues on their respective headline tours, but Jaws have always seemed very down to earth and haven’t tried to distance themselves by becoming an irrelevant indie hype act after one critically acclaimed LP.

As far as support acts go, Cosmo Pyke’s brand of jazzy lo fi finesse goes down surprisingly well. This is helped not only by the well mixed instrumentation through the PA but the almost improvisational tone of the 18 year old’s tunes. Think Mac Demarco but with a South London twang and this probably best describes Comso Pyke’s general aesthetic and sound going on here.  Assuming that most kids here haven’t had the chance to check his music out beforehand the crowd reception was warmingly humble. While Mr Pyke is a man of few words, he’s already raised the bar tonight past expectations of his studio material, and manages to do so almost effortlessly.

Before Jaws even come on there’s some rather bizarre push pitting going on to ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ by The Stone Roses playing over the sound system. Its a nice little reminder that the origins of indie haven’t been forgotten by younger fans of the genre, and Jaws are here to keep the flame burning.

Guitarist/lead vocalist, Connor Schofield, keeps asking the audience to sing sections he can’t pull off due to problems with his voice but for the majority of the time it never really gets in the way. ‘What We Haven’t Got Yet’ sounds so much better live when you have the entire room singing the “woah oh oh” chorus back in unison. It’s weird seeing people crowd surf and push pit to such zoned out, reverb drenched tunes but its definitely the right kind of weird.

The show is momentarily stopped as Schofield asks the crowd to calm down and step away from the barrier, which gives the band ample opportunity to play ’17’, a moody and ballzy anthem from their newest record, ‘Simplicity’.  Despite the record taking nearly a year to be released after the initial first single back in October 2015, it shows a greater sense of identity and progression that plenty of indie bands fail to do well.

Upgrading from FILDAR/Wavves vibe of playing carelessly fast paced songs, it feels like the band have finally harnessed what Jaws have wanted to do from the beginning.  The synth heavy ‘Surround You’ never fails to get kids on their mates shoulders and hype up the crowd, adding a much needed sense of euphoria amidst some of the more hazy guitar pedal driven tunes.

After a sped up version of ‘Be Slowly’ flowing into ‘Right In Front Of Me’, there’s a brief interlude preceding into an encore of ‘Doughnut’ from their 2013 EP ‘Milkshake’. They may not have played it in 2 years but when it comes to fan favourites, Jaws never fail to deliver, even if they’ve not been around for very long in the grand scheme of things.

The Birmingham indie stars aren’t without their flaws but it’s always better to have this sort of music be a little rough around the edges rather than entirely clean cut.  With any luck they’ll be moving on to bigger and better things in 2017  and this hometown show proves that Jaws are still very much alive and kicking.