09/18/13 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon
09/20/13 Denver, CO Bluebird Theater
09/23/13 Seattle, WA Neumos
09/24/13 Vancouver, BC Biltmore Cabaret
09/25/13 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
09/27/13 San Francisco, CA The Independent
09/28/13 "Station To Station"
10/01/13 Phoenix, AZ The Crescent Ballroom
10/04/13 "Austin City Limits Music Festival"
10/05/13 "Austin City Limits Music Festival"
10/07/13 Nashville, TN Nashville Municipal Aud
10/08/13 Fayetteville, AR Arkansas Music
10/09/13 Tulsa, OK Brady Theater
10/11/13 "Austin City Limits Music Festival"
The dimly lit stage sat empty after a short intermission between sets while a tribal instrumental played over the club’s speakers. When it came to a close, the lights went out and Savages walked on stage to thunderous applause. The musicians were clad in all black attire, their narrow silhouettes against the warm glow of the stage light created some wonderfully stark visuals. They started with the grim, pummeling “I Am Here” and the glorious assault on the ears began! Lead singer Beth is a fearless frontwoman, her fierce vocals effortlessly punctuating the charcoal rumblings of Ayse Hassan on bass and guitarist Gemma Thompson. The evening's most valuable player, however, was powerhouse drummer Fay Milton, who was clearly having a great time rocking out from behind the kit.
A frantic version of my favorite track “No Face” had Beth spitting like Souixsie Souix or Lydia Lunch as Thompson unleashed a sinister storm of noise from her guitar. The primal defiance of “She Will” and “Husbands,” with it’s urgent hyperventilating lyrics, properly stirred the crowd up. Fans convulsed to the dark, angular rhythms and pounded the air with their fists and voices during the choruses. Beth was completely in tune with the confrontational nature of the music, spending lots of time standing or crouching at the edge of the stage, staring lasers into anyone who dare make eye contact.
Despite the band’s serious presence (after performing “Marshal Dear” with Duke Garwood, Beth sternly asked, “Did I hear a boo?” to which the crowd fearfully responded in unison, “No!”) the night was sprinkled with plenty of light-hearted moments. As “Strife” came to a close, Beth’s microphone, which she had set on the stand before turning her back on it, dropped right as the music stopped. The shock of the sound elicited chuckles from the audience and the band as Beth quipped, “There’s a spirit in the room.” Later in the show, after an especially unsettling “Hit Me” (which reminded me of Liliana Cavani’s controversial film The Night Porter), Beth sat down at the front of the stage and inquired about the age of a concert-goer. “You’re 10? I’m sorry,” Beth joked. “You’re really cute.” Even at the very beginning of the show, as Beth stalked the stage’s edge, she remarked how “f*cking awesome” their last show was at the Triple Rock.
I hope that the massive hype that Savages are receiving doesn’t hinder what is to come. Not that the accolades are unwarranted, but it can damage a band’s direction and place a lot of undue pressure on them. However, Beth has mentioned in interviews that a major influence on her art is filmmaker John Cassavetes because of his uncompromising methods. And with a song like “F*ckers” in their catalogue (“Don’t let the f*ckers get you down!”), there is no doubt that Savages will continue fiercely independent and as dangerous as ever.
Savages at First Avenue, Minneapolis (09/17/13)