Review: JAWS @ Thekla

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By Beatrice Fitzmaurice, Third Year English

'I just wanna say thank you -  that’s it really. Thanks for the energy. This is our first tour in 2 years'

Recently Bristol’s Thekla saw JAWS step into a hazy backdrop of ethereal lights to fit the ambiance of the band’s oscillating rhythmic sound. While the lyrics of their angsty songs may not imply it, Thekla’s crowd certainly proved their music’s danceable aspect as the harmonic feel to Connor Schofield’s grungy riffs had everyone swaying.

Unusual for a support act, Joey Maxwell got the crowd going with his obvious new-artist energy. Generating a stage of saxophones and simps with his blush-dyed hair, jumping and spinning about the stage, I couldn’t help but anticipate the mic lead tripping him up. My anxieties eased when he instead fell slightly backward into his guitar which he styled out, adding to his youthful and animated performance. His songs replicated a mix of RAT BOY and Easy Life but this Croydon-based artist said himself that his main influences were The Beastie Boys and predictably, the iconic Paul McCartney. Maxwell enjoyed the Bristol crowd as much as we enjoyed him and said he had played in town recently at Dot-to-Dot festival at The Louisiana.

Credit: Beatrice Fitzmaurice

This newbie hence had more recent knowledge of the Bristol crowd he was playing for than JAWS themselves. After having had a full two-year break from touring, for obvious reasons, the Birmingham band sauntered back onto the gig scene by starting their tour in Bristol, a bit further from home. Schofield perhaps predicted less energy than expected in their local town and started the gig a little apprehensive - later thanking the crowd for their energy because of this. That may have motivated them to begin the setlist with their most well-known song, ‘Gold’, a calculable crowd-pleaser. Though arguably in continuing with the less eminent and slower ‘Just A Boy’ and thereafter a few ones from their newer 2019 album, ‘The Ceiling’, brought down some of the crowd’s initial zeal.

Yet everyone was still swaying throughout, particularly to the melodic build-up of another favourite, ‘17’. Schofield’s lyrics certainly had us reminiscing lost time, most relatable to the young generation in the crowd, certainly reminiscent of lost teenage years to the pandemic. The euphoric melody built up, however, causing mosh after mosh. A keen supporter of the band, Dominic Kennedy, has watched the band’s growth with having seen them almost seven times; mostly in their shared hometown of Birmingham and a of couple years ago in Bristol at The Fleece though he said, ‘this time was definitely more moshy’. The repetitiveness of their lyrics makes the songs an easy singalong that rebuilt the crowd’s fervour along with the flickering lights on each guitar strum.

Maintaining their classic nonchalant attitude, the band ignored the stage direction in their setlist to go off stage and instead jumped straight into the encore with ‘Looking/Passing’ from their new album. While the crowd remained eager, this disrupted the energy from the moshing but was a nice breather before the penultimate song, ‘Be Slowly’, which again generated a frenzy. Another crowd-pleaser and perhaps what the set should have started with since JAWS instead concluded the gig by replaying ‘Gold’.

Featured image: Beatrice Fitzmaurice


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