As the crowds gather it is clear that the future is indeed bright for Birmingham music. In fact, the present is bright too, with five of the city’s most exciting new bands each bringing their own style, swagger and sound to this evening’s proceedings, with each band admirably backed by their own fanbase too. While Jaws are headlining, this is a bill that is not about just making up the numbers, with each support act weighing in with significant contributions to the night.
In essence CAVES bear substantial and well-constructed compositions with sound melodic and harmonic concepts. However, these concepts are often veiled by bewitching reverberation, distortion and melancholy vocal, the ability of which is limited. The performance is enjoyable but fittingly grungy, hazy and unpolished.
Following them is the regal splendour of THESE KINGS. Their professional conduct and musical aptitude rivals that of any well-seasoned live band. With impeccable timing, remarkable talent and immersive vocals, they combine mellow and charming vibes as well as those climactic and stimulating crescendos.
Stylistically dissimilar to the acts preceding them, THE TONE THIEVES are an entirely different species. However, their enthusiasm and unsurpassable virtuosity justifies their place in the line-up. Their diverse and high calibre blend of clean soul, funk and jazz proves to be unconventionally charismatic, engagingly witty and astonishingly entertaining.
WIDE EYED prove more than fit to follow them, in fact proving that they are more than ready to command headline audiences themselves. Through their proficient technicality and fluid psychedelia Wide Eyed inject the audience with a sonic opium strong enough to steal the show. Worthy of a headline position these visually suave and awe-inspiring musicians lure the audience’s attention and absorb it like no band before them.
As they leave the stage, expectation builds once more ahead of the arrival of tonight’s headliners, the precocious and vastly talented JAWS. With shimmering reverberation and a melodic haze of blindingly bright tones, Jaws immediately administer a kaleidoscope of musical sedatives fused with electronic subtleties and psychedelic overtones. When lacking in textural clarity, the music becomes a tranquil harmonic daze that enchants and caresses the ears of the audience with a resounding charm.
This ethereal and heady musical concoction is rooted by the refined grooves of bassist Jake Cooper, whose animated character and jaunty playing style creates a contagious enthusiasm that’s felt throughout the venue. “Who wants to do some hippy dancing?” Cooper manically inquires, shortly before expeditiously downing the last half of his pint. The audience emphatically agrees with his proposition and the band drift into a sublime hallucinatory musical state.
Lucidity is manifested within the unclouded and pensive baritone voice of Connor Schofield, whose nonassertive presence oozes a cool and admirable modesty. Schofield’s unique, dense, low end and very British voice is the most recognizable feature of Jaws’s sound. It is not only clearly distinguishable but acts as a strong, eloquent vocal guide that compliments the indistinct nature of their hazy soundscaping. Each contributing musical element is at a perfect balance as Jaws show why they are simply one of the coolest and most original up-and-coming-acts in the West Midlands right now.
Words by Guy Hirst
Photos by Jonathan Morgan www.jamdonut.co.uk