Live Review

PAWS, CCA, Glasgow

Unlike some of the original 90s grunge which clearly influences the PAWS sound, this is not self-destructive or nihilistic.

Three-piece PAWS originated in the Highlands, made a base in Glasgow and earlier this year signed to Brighton-based Fat Cat Records. With their debut album ‘Cokefloat!’ just unveiled, this gig serves as both a launch and a homecoming (after a European tour supporting Japandroids).

Being away has given them room to grow and this development is all the more obvious in comparison with local support North American War, who have an anti-cool aesthetic and attitude but don’t seem all that interested in tunes. PAWS prove that their hard work makes them more than ready to take on the world beyond the confines of the extravagantly bobble-hatted Glasgow scene.

The venue, a smart, well-equipped performance space within the Centre For Contemporary Art, feels too clean and clinical, the sound system too decent for a lo-fi punk gig.

PAWS have in the past been more suited to sticky-floored, sweatbox venues, and the rarefied school hall atmosphere doesn’t last. Album opener ‘Catherine 1956’ kicks things off and although named for singer Philip Taylor’s late mother, it’s not a howl of pain, but an appreciation. He has heeded her advice to “Do something with your life and get out of this town”.

There is catharsis here in spades. Many of the songs on the album deal with the highly personal emotional fall out of losing a parent, but unlike some of the original 90s grunge which clearly influences the PAWS sound, this is not self-destructive or nihilistic. Something positive and hopeful shines through.

The power trio melodies in the songs from the LP could be a young, optimistic take on Sugar (Bob Mould’s post Husker-Du trio) and the sweetness and Philip’s slacker delivery almost conjures The Lemonheads; but PAWS are probably more interested in their contemporaries like Wavves, Best Coast, Yuck and bands they have supported such as No Age and Dum Dum Girls.

Philip entreats us to “jump all over the shop and shit” and he gets his wish. After misleadingly cheery single ‘Sore Tummy’, the crowd joins in his headbanging and crowd surfing starts to break out. By the end of the song a mosh pit has been achieved.

The band feed on the energy and the CCA is well and truly broken in. ‘Pony’ sounds tighter than ever before and a queue of willing crowd surfers go round for second and third turns at tumbling over the heads of the enthused mass of bodies. The band take a moment to thank their friends and a fan who has “been to more PAWS gigs than we have”. Older, noisier tracks ‘Miss American Bookworm’ and ‘Winners Don’t Bleed’ still work but show how far the band has come in the last two years.

Philip apologies “for the lack of actual ice-cream induced drinks” – but the thought of cleaning up all the vomit appears to have put the CCA on health and safety alert! We don’t need more of a sugar rush now and album closer ‘Poor Old Christopher Robin’ maintains the optimism.

Another PAWS favourite, the punky ‘Booger’, closes the evening and Philip goes for a ride on the crowd, followed by the rest of the band and sound-tracked by a hail of feedback. The filters are off, this is as direct and visceral and as down right fun as it gets.

Tags: PAWS, Features

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