The Twang and Jaws at the Forum
Birmingham dream pop band Jaws play a brief set supporting The Twang in their Tenth Anniversary concert at the Forum. Surround You from 2013’s Milkshake EP begins with a twinkling sampler intro – the contrasting hard sounds of the synth softened by the guitar and gentle nature of the lyrics, nostalgia surrounding us, mirroring the track title. Playing new single Cast, the Brummie boys maintain an air of coolness, lead singer Connor Schofield’s lower tone in vocal range harmonised by the lush guitar riffs that Jaws are known for. 17 shows them to be quite sensitive for such young musicians, containing lyrics that empathise with teenage angst. Teasing with a slow build up to 2013 hit Gold, the drums escalate, coinciding with the electric guitars and strikingly thrilling light display. Though a disappointingly brief set excluding lush tunes such as Think Too Much, Feel Too Little and Stay In, the band show talent to earn them new fans.
Luminescent pink gaffer tape highlights the setlists, as the football chant-like cheers and shouts go up in waves for The Twang. The bongo drumming of Barney Rubble from 2009’s Jewellery Quarter is a surprise, as the set was expected to be the live performance of the group’s debut album Love It When I Feel Like This, but vocalist Phil Etheridge clears that up after a few songs, exclaiming that they “will go for a cig and a piss” then return to play the record.
Things start to go wrong regarding the acoustics, which play a key role in the success of a show. Back Where We Started is a hammering, not so triumphant track, with the vocals set on much too high a volume, rendering them somewhat out of tune. Thinking that perhaps this was an anomaly, Paradise sadly shows this isn’t the case, the volume becoming unbearable. Hard to ignore, Etheridge and backing vocalist Martin Saunders’ vocals become lost in the deafening noise, making the lyrics virtually impossible to decipher. Mainline, We’re a Crowd and Whoa Man are not redeeming songs, but only set the anticipation for their debut album even more.
Ice Cream Sundae is brought to life with Etheridge’s lairy vocals, coarse but evoking gentleness – like many others who sing in this mode, one of the most famous being Jamie T. It accentuates the working class attitudes and constitutes a sort of reckless rebellion in which the vocals act as a form of pushing through the barriers. Wide Awake, one of the band’s major hits and a highlight, is celebratory, despite the continuous sound issue, while Push the Ghosts has a strong guitar intro, not unlike U2. With Two Lovers, a stampede of dancing occurs, the whole place shaking, followed by Cloudy Room, the guitars echoing as on previous tracks.
The Twang have some great hits and a sweet 90s vibe, and it’s a shame that Love It When I Feel Like This failed to translate well to this venue, making one more aware of the damage to their ears than the actual music. A good live performance is construed of a number of essential elements, not least of which is the sound; ironically, the music sounded better when blocking the ears. It makes one wonder when event organisers and musicians will fully realise that screeching loudness is not what makes a good show, and that their fans’ hearing should be taken seriously. Contrary to the album title, it’s likely that no one would love the feeling of their ears ringing when they get home.
Photos: Mike Garnell
Watch the video for Barney Rubble here: