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Savages Are Not Like Other Bands

July 12th, 2013

Savages – Webster Hall – July 11, 2013


Playing live, Savages seem louder than most bands, although that may be in part because I forgot to bring my earplugs—the lifesaver to anyone regularly attending concerts—to last night’s sold-out show at Webster Hall. The London-based quartet also seems darker than other bands, perhaps because they all dress in black. Or maybe it’s because the band requests that people not use their cell phones to snap pictures, providing a welcome retreat from the usual sea of hundreds of lit phones and fans half paying attention while they focus instead on their futile pursuit of snapping the perfect concert Instagram.

So allow me to spit out a forbidden cliché of music journalism: Savages are not like other bands. There’s just some strange strain of energy that seems foreign (and I don’t mean British). It’s frantic yet deliberate, calculated while still allowing for just enough spontaneity to leave room for an anything-can-happen ethos. Simply put, an Instagram would do the experience no justice. Jehnny Beth is about as animated as a lead singer gets, often convulsing and twitching like the band’s music is running through her like an electric current. And even when she’s not singing, Beth is fun to watch. For the howling solo that ended “Waiting for a Sign,” she rested her hands on Gemma Thompson’s shoulders while the guitarist bent her strings into the singer’s wails.

Most Savages songs fantastically build in energy, and it’s almost as though the journey to get to a tune’s climax is just as fun as finally getting there, never more so than in the unreleased “Fuckers,” which involved a slow march to its denouement, ending with a sustained teakettle-like shriek from Beth. Then band left the stage, making it pretty obvious there would be no encore, but the audience still tried for one anyway. It wasn’t until the crew began to break down the drum set that everyone realized—or at least admitted—the show really had finished. No need to fret, though: Savages are just one LP into their career, so keep applauding, this is likely just the beginning. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.wordpress.com

(See Savages play Terminal 5 on 9/12.)