PAWS, The Spook School & some drumming adventures too

I first came across PAWS when they were part of the most insane gig I have ever been to.  I couldn’t really make out any of their songs at the time, but I had a quick listen online afterwards and instantly liked what I heard.  Their first album, Cokefloat, put me in mind of Oxford Collapse. I think at the time, I then got distracted remembering how awesome Oxford Collapse had been and went off on a mini-nostalgia trip listening to them and, to be honest, forgot about PAWS. I followed them on Twitter, however, and they seemed like cool, interesting guys. When they announced a new album and a tour including a gig in Stereo, I reckoned it was time to reconnect with them and give them a proper chance.

I listened back to their older stuff and kicked myself for not getting properly into them 2 years ago. They are GOOD. Then I heard the first track of the new album, No Grace and fell in love. They are REALLY GOOD.  Punchy, punky, energetic and danceable.  So I was excited to see them properly.

The day started with some drumming activity.  The place I go for lessons also have a shop, and they were hosting a demo event by Eddy Thrower, drummer with Lower Than Atlantis, among other bands & artists. I had seen him at the Glasgow Drum Show, and had been impressed, so after a fair amount of rushing about, my usual parking-in-Glasgow-City-Centre nightmare and getting rained on, I made it along to see most of his set.

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Someone took a video:

Seriously, the guy is so laid back I half expected him to start sipping a cup of tea mid-beat. Check out his cover of Bieber – a lesson for me in fluidity of movement.

Afterwards, he took some questions, then stayed around a bit chatting to everyone.  I spoke to him for a few minutes about learning fundamentals, improvising and how drumming is the best thing ever. “I wish I could play more songs for you but I don’t have any more tracks…I just love playing drums!”

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Afterwards, I had my lesson where we worked on some of those fundamentals. I’m sure now, after only a handful of lessons this time round, I’m being pushed beyond anything I learned or was playing back in the day.  The exercises we were working on this week makes previous weeks’ efforts look like baby stuff. I can’t wait to see what I’m doing in a few months time that makes my current paradiddle-diddles around the kit look simple. Love it.

ANYWAY…

After my lesson and a lot of running around town getting stuff for upcoming holiday and both girls’ birthdays, I headed over to Stereo for the gig. I got there early, as usual, to secure a place near the front.  I really didn’t fancy being in the middle of a (tall) crowd for this one.  I wasn’t that taken with the first support act. It was 1 bloke, who looked like he’d drafted in a reluctant mate to play bass. He spent every song setting up several looped parts as accompaniment. I don’t mind this now and again, it can be really cool if done well and shake things up a bit, but when it happened every single time and took several minutes it got very tedious. Either get some more mates, pre-record it or just play a stripped down version. I was bored.

The second support, on the other hand, were amazing.  The Spook School are a 4-piece of (mostly) young people who all took turns to lead and sing on songs.  They have a strong theme of gender identity running through their music.  At times the lyrics were a bit obvious and simplistic, but I’ll forgive them because they put their all into it, they played really tightly and brought a real spirit of optimism and positivity to a Glasgow that was still mostly reeling from recent political events.

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The Spook School

A quick stage turnaround and PAWS came on. They promised to try to cram as many songs into the hour as possible, and they were true to their word. Minimal chat, energy levels high, mood elevated and song after song from all albums, old and new. Having listened to them some more, and armed with earplugs this time, I was able to actually appreciate the songs more than previously.  Although I was regretting even more not listening to them properly these past 2 years, as I wasn’t able to sing along to many of the songs.  Even though I recognised them I don’t have the lyrics pinned down yet. When the crowd participation sing-alongs occurred I just had to grin and dance and enjoy the band soaking up the adoration of the audience and revelling in the moment.

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PAWS

Towards the end, the crowd got predictably rowdy, and at one point I was thrown forward, knocking a monitor towards singer Philip. After the song he reminded everyone that if they wanted to jump around and go crazy, that was fine, but they should also look out for each other.  Later, a mini-stage invasion occurred and once again, after the invaders were ushered off, he asked everyone not to crowd-surf in case someone got hurt.  They might have been rocking their socks off, but they still wanted to make sure everyone, not just the crazy ones, was having a good time.

I wondered why these guys aren’t a huge band. They seemed so chuffed to be headlining Stereo, but Stereo is a pretty small venue. They are so good, they have interesting lyrics, complicated rhythms and manage to convey emotion and feeling into rock/punk/whatever music that has elements that are thoughtful and considered on record but can be ramped up and bring the roof down when played live. They give me that conflicted feeling – they deserve to be huge, but I’m also glad I get to see them up close in a small, sweaty club.

In their usual no-nonsense approach to life, they didn’t bother with the ritual of going off stage and back on for an encore, they played straight through, finished on a high and left.  We were all pumped, sweaty and in my case bruised. But it was awesome.

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PAWS givin’ it laldy

I stopped by the merch stand, picked up a t-shirt and headed outside. I had that disconcerting feeling of coming out of a gig not much past 10pm in June, and it still being light outside. I felt energised and wanted to go on and do something else, but I had attended the gig on my own so was kinda stuck. I hung around for a bit in case I recognised anyone or there was a general sense of going on somewhere after, but the crowd dispersed, there was no sign of the band so I headed home. I’m mostly ok with going to gigs on my own, but sometimes it actually sucks. Anyway, half an hour later I was in my house having tea and toast. I’m so rock n roll it hurts.

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