PAWS at Bunk Bar in Portland, OR (November 22, 2013)
For the members of the Scottish punk pop band, PAWS, coming to Portland and the Pacific Northwest has been a significant fulfillment. Especially for the singer/guitarist, Philip Taylor, who declared, “I really like Portland a lot. It’s really fucking cool. I wanted to come here for so long since like I was a teenager.”, to the modest crowd gathered at the Bunk Bar on a frigid Friday night. Judging by our short outing earlier to Music Millennium and Voodoo Doughnut, as well as getting lost in the labyrinth of residential streets in between, to the three lads from Glasgow, it all seemed, “so cool”. Yet at the same time, Taylor realized that it was also the furthest they’ve been away from home. Before playing “Bloodline”, he rambled on about fear and insecurity of the distance and the strangers amiably. But fewer foreign groups felt more in element with the Portland’s DIY spirit than PAWS.
Before their stage time, Taylor and bassist Ryan Drever demonstrated their crafty side by making some merchandise. From the poster adorned with roses and glitter to the glow-in-the-dark painted t-shirts, everything was handmade. At $10-$15/piece, this was the best deal in indie music goods. And their fans knew it. By the end of the night, the table was clear of these limited edition, one-of-a-kind products.
PAWS’ debut full-length, Cokefloat!, came out over a year ago (and they just finished recording the follow-up), yet some are just getting the taste of the trio’s hook-laden pop melodies mingled with lo-fi dissonant rock punches. From punk anthems clocking at less than two minutes to quasi-post-rock jams, the crowd expressed their elation as much as the Scotts felt for this town. The treat was topped with a cherry when PAWS gave their grunge rendition of Elliot Smith’s “Needle In The Hay”. Surely, the ghost of the infamous former Stumptown resident nodded his head in agreement with a voice in the crowd, who declared at its conclusion, “That was all so amazing!” And a tall blonde lad standing outside of the front door probably chimed in the sentiment; he came to see his favorite band but could not cross the line into the 21-and-over establishment due to a disintegrated ID. So the lone fan watched the show from the other side of the door (likely, it was glass) and stayed till the end, long enough to have a friend purchase some merch on his behalf.
Somehow it felt like we witnessed a future music icons in a special moment in their history. Regardless, the few of us who had gathered at Bunk Bar, knew that our Friday night would not have been better anywhere else than to be there with PAWS.