Jagwar Ma - The Art School, Glasgow (20th Oct 2016)

Jagwar Ma – The Art School, Glasgow (20th Oct 2016)

Jagwar Ma’s mixed generational pull at Glasgow’s Art School makes a whole lot of sense. Their propulsive jams fuse 60’s psych rock atmosphere with sun-soaked Britpop melodies and acidic house bubbling under the surface. ‘Ordinary’, one of their new offerings, could be a lost gem from Stone Roses’s debut if not for the unmistakably modern approach to beat craft, while the guitar focused cuts conjure the jangly textures of early Oasis records. At other points, the group sit snuggly next to their Australian brethren Tame Impala. Still, their sizzling builds and dance backbone give the band an identity all of their own.

The band embrace the joy of their influences, bringing a diverse range of faces into the crowd, all bobbing in unison. Their set tonight feels like a fluid DJ set, each cut melting into each other with hazy guitar feedback and morphing bass thumps. The grooves are relentless and the highs are very high. ‘OB 1’, named after its effervescent synth, is busted out early. It’s one of the band’s tightest written songs thus far, with a slowly uncoiling groove that lifts its earworm melody to a sweaty climax.  

‘Uncertainty’ sounds pretty uncertain in its first half, when the momentum rests on Gabriel Winterfield’s strained falsetto. While his performance is always big on charisma, his vocal lines occasionally feel too thin to hold much weight on their own. On these long jams, those moments of stillness come on a song’s intro or bridge, where his melody is left floating in hazy effects before the beat drops back in. These core moments can lose all energy when he tries to do his best pop diva impression.

As the set finds its footing, the inebriating synths and pads make an issue like this seem irrelevant. ‘Give Me a Reason’ has a swaggering stomp that instantly heats the room in a sweaty mess of flailing limbs and giggling butts. Winterfield perfectly carries its morphing groove while his bandmates keep the energy fully up. ‘Four’s elastic, jittery drum machines raise the pressure well, setting the pace for a sturdy second half. The set reaches its climax with ‘Slipping’, a dramatic, driving jam that fuses the band’s synthetic beats with the fluid psych atmosphere. It feels like Tame Impala’s ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ in a sugar coma, and its gooey warmth is a gorgeous way to wrap up.

But the band have a few more songs left. They return after a brief encore, giving the audience a chance to catch their breath. The encore offers both their most rock-focused and dance-oriented songs. ‘Say What You Feel’ is a dreamy ballad that proudly waves the flag for 90’s revivalism and nostalgia. Still, the band’s knack for imbuing their songs with a bubbling sense of energy makes it more than simple naval gazing – even when the lyrics can be a bit too on the nose to pack an emotional punch. They bow out with ‘Throw’, a final rave with just as much propulsion and anything else they’ve thrown at us. It’s ragged, slinking guitar lick floats around the sharp snare cracks and bass wubs swallow everything in their path. We leave breathing heavy, grinning helplessly.