JAWS @ The Rainbow, 2nd December, 2016

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We all have that one sound track that defined our youth. The Beatles or The Stones, NSYNC and Britney, Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift, many of us can name the music of our youth without any hesitation. For those who scrunched into the Rainbow on the 2nd of December the band of their youth is easily JAWs. For the Birmingham youth, the hipster crowd who made me feel really old and really stale, JAWs is the music that they turn to, the music that shapes the formative years of youth. When heartbreak hits, JAWs is there. When happiness swells, JAWs is there. When their parents don’t understand, when school is too much, when friends leave or when there is no future in sight, JAWs is there.  An indie rock pop band, JAWs surfaced in 2012 and have rocketed to success. Their show was a tale of teenage youth and angst, development and longings, wrapped in delicately strung patterns and intense rhythmic movement.

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JAWs are part rock and part indie, part 90s punk and part summer vibes. The two things JAWs excel at are strong instrumental sections and mid-song tempo changes. Both these, combined with an epic light show, were on full display as they played to a sold out Rainbow Warehouse.  After two excellent openers, JAWs walked onstage to thunderous applause. “Just A Boy” opened with a blast of energy from both the band and the fans. With hands raised and throwing drinks around the room, the crowd was beyond excited and immediately engaged. While the oldies stood in the back, burdened by beers and responsibilities, the teens danced and sang their hearts out, and this was merely the first song! “Stay In” and “Work It Out” surfaced next. Both songs are upbeat pop infused rock tunes that have a hint of subversive pop mixed with their energetic rhythm. While the lyrics are tinged with nostalgia and the song construction has a bit of a retro feel, the band is clearly not looking back but instead looking to use their major year for a catalyst for more greatness.

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With “Think Too Much” JAWs slows down the tempo a bit. While it still has a sense of excitement, the song highlights the longing that comes with late nights of youth. A clear crowd favourite, as many are, this song with its psychedelic undertone shows how love and the concept of love is constructed in the minds of this generation. “What We Haven’t Got Yet” is followed by “A Brief Escape from Life” and “In the Morning.” The triad of songs picks back the tempo with a strong base and smooth rhythms. A clear influence of 90s punk can be denoted in each song, and while there is an escalation in rock tone there is a consistent use of instrumentals that comes from a well traveled and well rehearsed band. By the end of this triad a moshpit, a soft moshpit to be exact, has formed. The fans do not seem to mind the lack of interaction from the stage, they are there to rock and to enjoy their time, and so the moshpit grows as the electric guitar whines overhead.

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30 minutes in and we have the first crowd surfer as “In The Morning” breaks through. The mystical quality of this song, with undefined rhythm and a blur of instrumentals, displays the indie side of JAWs. The indie quality is short-lived, as the band picks up the tempo mid song a dance party breaks out. These tempo changes are done to perfection, a task not easily mastered in a live setting, and is perhaps one of the most impressive characteristics of musicianship for the band.

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“17”  breaks the indie style and the band transitions back into the pop punk dance style that has outlined this show. As Connor sheds his orange hoodie, the band moves to the slower tempo “Surround You.” In a song that seems to mirror the grief cycle, this tune displays the journey of living in some sort of pain. While a majority of their music is written with deep purpose, this song seems to extend the meaningful aspect of their tunes. This is the reason, and this song is the reason, why the band is more than musicians but are also individuals helping shape the lives of the listeners. Their music means something and has power, not merely emotional power but also cognitive and developmental power for their fans.

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The band rounds their pre interlude set with “Cast” and “The Invisible Sleep” followed by “Be Slowly” and “Right In Front of Me.” As kids get escorted out of the show for being too rowdy the band blasts high-energy songs that fuel the debacle. The moshpit has returned, with better formation and more stamina, and more and more fans take to the shoulder of their friends to express their adoration and excitement. In a swirling vortex of pure bliss and sweaty vigour fans sing and JAWs responds with electric guitar rifts and drum interludes. As the girls with glittery faces dance and sway the tempo builds, until the band ends with a climactic thunderbolt.

Silence doesn’t hold too long, as the band quickly returns after their interlude. “On The Sunshine” kicks off followed by “Donut,” a song that has not been played in two years. Finally the band ends with “Gold,” a clear crowd pleaser. With bombastic enthusiasm mirrored by the epic lightshow the night ends in a psychedelically mind numbing tune, and then its over.

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JAWs easily put on one of the best sets I have seen in the year. The hometown show brought out many adoring fans, and a few parents. The energy and excitement of the fans was only paralleled by the intensity and power of the band. JAWs is more than a group of musicians, they are a band that individuals grasp to for understanding of life and individually identity. Their show is electric and thrilling, their music is authentic and real. It is this deadly combination that will continue to push JAWs to success.


Reviewer – Kylie McCormick

Photographer – Chris Bowley

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