JAWS Headline Kink Nights

by Lizzie Hatfield

As I walked into the Cavern on a soggy Wednesday evening, I was greeted by its usual cosy vibe - yet the venue looked ever so slightly different from usual with a large, sparkly lightboard displayed proudly in the corner: ‘Kink’. Having eagerly arrived before anything had actually started, the dancefloor was looking ominously sparse and contrastly, the bar was full. I wasn’t surprised by the sheer amount of denim that greeted me as I walked over to grab myself a tap water (glamorous, I know); JAWS are icons of the hipster scene right now. However I was surprised by the varying age of those that had turned out - this gig seems to have marketed itself to not just university students, but college kids, post-grads and even the occasional indie grandad.

The balance in the room immediately shifted, however, when the first few drum beats of support act, The Big V, kicked in. All spectators filtered through to watch the Exeter-based band, whose unique blend of rock and psychadelia filled the low, cavernous room and commanded the attention of the crowd. Frontwoman Emily Johnstone had a heck of a voice, and her angry vocals and raspy high-notes culminated to create a sound not too dissimilar from Gossip’s Beth Ditto. The combination of vocals and heavy rock - interspersed with jazzy piano - was altogether reminiscent of a female-fronted Raconteurs.

Next up was the main event, the reason we were all there: JAWS. Having been perched at the merch stand for the entire evening, their entrance on-stage was appropriately casual; walking slowly on to a loud selection of whoops and cheers, only to respond by chucking out a load of balloons onto the crowd. They opened with a bang - my personal favourite, Surround You. Gorgeous riff and tinkling of piano keys combined with Connor Schofield’s signature drone-like vocals to create all of the energy stored on the record, plus more. There was always an anticipatory danger with JAWS; I worried that Schofield’s voice wouldn’t come off well at live performances and might sound a little dreary or bored. But I needn’t have worried as the live result was far better than expected.

The boys then treated us to a new song, of which I didn’t quite catch the name. Unfortunate for me, as I loved it - it sounded like it was spat straight out of the 80s and made me incredibly excited for their upcoming record. Following this, an impressive rendition of Toucan Surf got the crowd all riled up, and the song ended with the audience’s loud chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the guitarist. His one birthday wish was for a mosh pit to open up, and this was realised during the opening chords of Donut.

JAWS’ setlist certainly was not disappointing, and they played all the recognisable hits (with the exception of Friend Like You), plus a few extras. Finishing with best-known track, Gold, I couldn’t help feeling as though I wished JAWS had more songs just so they could stay and play a little bit longer. Overall, the band were a perfect choice from Kink; JAWS’ sound complemented the venue, satisfied the audience, and in my opinion the night was great value for money.