PAWS @ Birthdays, London, 22/05/2012

If Glaswegian garage pop-rock with a DIY ethic is the preferred soundtrack to your shenanigans, you may have already caught PAWS thrashing away at the Great Escape this summer. If not, the trio seem to have racked up an impressive gig history, from "someone's bathroom" to "a ridiculously wet and windy performance on the top of an open roofed double decker bus". It's immediately obvious that this ain’t your gramma's Glaswegian garage pop-rock with a DIY vibe.

Birthdays felt like an appropriate venue for Paws; being underground and mostly concrete, it was a welcome break from the blinding heatwave pounding down on Dalston's pavements. The coolness meant that the crowd were free to let loose and crack out their best pogos, safe in the knowledge that their perfectly quaffed hair wouldn't buckle under the heat. As the band opened their set with an unapologetic throng of solid, frantic noise, the bleak white walls with random swatches of mismatched colours reminded me of the blank canvas of the recorded material. Never afraid to deviate, Paws' elevated the sound of their EP to new heights, thickening the tracks with an increase in noise, a vivacious burst of energy that washed over the crowd and filled the room.

Unfortunately, the sound levels felt a little wonky; it was an absolute mission to pick the thread of Philip's scrunch-faced, lung-shrivelling vocals from the cacophony of guitar and Josh's fast-paced drums. Whether intentional or otherwise, it is somewhat disconcerting to see someone putting so much energy, so much naked sound, into a microphone and yet not a whisper could be heard in the front row. Perhaps the chaos informs the genre, perhaps the layers of almost indistinguishable noise were simply building into a millefeuille of unadulterated, raw-assed punk. I don't know; what I do know is that whilst the music sounded brilliant, I couldn't pick up the lyrics, couldn't make out the variants in Philip's voice and felt like I'd missed out on the vital flesh of Paws' raw, cacophonous sound.

If anything, however, this frustrating turn of events has merely whet my appetite for another slice of the PAWS pie. The youthful, high-energy noise of the Mislead Youth EP has such a retro, '78 vibe ricocheting throughout, yet it twists with a contemporary strain of well-crafted lyrics. It's too good not to try again.

- Alice Slater


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