Review: JAWS at Engine Rooms, Southampton

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80%
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Uplifting

A blend of grungy and dreamy indie rock that will have you either transfixed by a spectacular light show or chaotically moshing ... or both!

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JAWS brought their blend of grunge and dream pop from a sold-out show in Bristol to an almost sold-out Engine Rooms on Saturday night. The B-town band are currently on a UK tour which sees them playing 11 shows in the space of two weeks. They’re taking a break on Sunday, which is something lead singer Connor Schofield said he would be needing after the sheer energy that both band and crowd offered during the gig. It was a mad one!

As stage time drew closer it was apparent there was something obscure about the stage setup. A huge backdrop with the word ‘JAWS’ was the first thing noticed (okay, nothing obscure there). However, half a dozen floor-standing, tambourine-shaped objects stood interspersed between the band’s instruments. It wasn’t until the clock struck nine and the backdrop lit up, smoke pouring onto the stage that these floor standers individually emitted a spectrum of light flooding Engine rooms with a rainbow of colour. It was one of the most spectacular light shows I have witnessed from a band, at times making me question whether we were at actually at an event in Switch, just with better music…

The band entered to an enormous roar, opening with the lead track ‘Driving at Night’ on their latest album The Ceiling. The fast-paced hi-hat led the track with the looped guitar riff and concomitant bass instilling a sense of euphoria into everyone listening. A circle-pit opened up in the centre of the room, perhaps a little prematurely but this can be attributed to the excitement of the crowd. Nonetheless, once the ecstatic build was up, a heavy mosh-pit ensued. In a venue which hosts frequent roller-discos, I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to hit the hard laminate flooring, which would explain securities’ tight watch on the intermittent chaos that continued throughout the set. I say intermittent as JAWS seem to offer that perfect mix of ‘heavy’ rock songs intertwined with more mellow, shoegazey tunes to bop along to.

JAWS flicked between The Ceiling and their second album Simplicity for a while, with the distorted guitars of ‘Just a Boy’ instigating another widespread mosh after the deep, soothing baseline of ‘Please Be Kind’ relaxed and uplifted the crowd. ‘Think Too Much, Feel Too Little’ followed, which instigated the biggest crowd sing-a-long, yet this is normally the case with early material. It seemed that JAWS had decided before the gig not to play anything from their debut EP Milkshake, Schofield telling the crowd early on “we’re not playing Toucan Surf, sorry”. With no signs of a keyboard or synthesiser on stage, he was most likely telling the truth. Nevertheless, the requests of the crowd were met; “we like to give the people what we want” Schofield exclaimed before launching into “Breeze”, the premier track on Milkshake.

With regard to supporting acts, the first slot was occupied by Portsmouth band Flowvers, who took the place of Ivory Wave (listed support act for the tour) for this show. The second support slot was occupied by fellow Birmingham-based band, Sugarthief who offer a relaxing, feel-good style of indie rock and most definitely should be caught before they inevitably blow-up.

JAWS played an encore consisting of three tracks from their first album; ‘Stay In’, ‘Be Slowly’ and ‘Gold’. Whether this was because they hold sentimental value for the band or that they are firm fan-favourites, I’m unsure. I know however, that energy levels were sent through the roof. Upbeat drums, groove-inducing baselines and guitar’s which sound like they’ve been handed down directly from The Cure, we couldn’t ask for much more from an encore. Finishing with ‘Gold’ which had everyone either in the mosh-pit or headbanging. I would definitely recommend seeing these guys if you get the chance and make sure to pack a pair of sunglasses for a stellar light show.

Keep up to date with JAWS’ upcoming shows here.

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