Live: Les Savy Fav Are (Thankfully!) Still The Same Old Absurdist Art-Punk Band at the Bowery Ballroom
iPhone magic by me Les Savy Fav frontman Tim Harrington, crowd-surfing on a pedestal, lips on a flask, same as it ever was.
Better than: Monotonix's indefinite hiatus.
Les Savy Fav have not evolved, you will be happy to learn. They are still the same four laser-focused musicians and one giant hairy bald art-punk jester who tongue-kisses strangers and strips down to his underpants. And so a night committed to letting these guys--most noticeably prop comic/expert crowd conductor Tim Harrington--be your primary source of entertainment is always a good decision. At the very best, Les Savy Fav live are the most fun you've had standing upright all month; at the very least, Les Savy Fav are a damn fine primer to Odd Future's Jimmy Fallon debut, even if this strain of performance-art punk comes from "the old people in the back," the side of the bell curve Hodgy Beats finds so reprehensible. Both Tyler and Tim wear kneesocks, so.
So, ridiculous entrance? Check: Tim Harrington, supposedly just off a plane from Australia, comes onstage in a yellow shirt and flop-eared hat, brrrrring out of a plastic didgeridoo. Gags? Of course: Harrington handcuffs himself to an audience member and drags the dude onstage, where the fan flop-dances not-at-all-symbolically like a fish out of water, until one of Tim's feet boots the guest off. Props? Duh: aforementioned handcuffs, white-bread slices, pope hat that eventually becomes a talking hand-puppet. Aerial antics? Look up there: Tim, hands on the ceiling, walking the Bowery Ballroom balcony ledge, climbing down to the floor without using the stairs. Crotchplay? Check: Per usual, Tim Harrington strips down to tighty-whities--no further explanation necessary. Affronts to hygiene? Wouldn't be a Les Savy Fav show without a few, like Harrington fingering his belly-button, then licking it, yuck.
What else? The songs, of course, which are a solid body of work, but more like the score to an absurdist community-theater musical live, fronted by a lumbering, nonsequitor-sputtering costume chest. The exceptions, as usual include the phenomenal "The Sweat Descends," circle-spinning singalong "Patty Lee," and their pre-encore "fake last song" from last year's Root for Ruin's "Let's Get Out Of Here." And celebratory encore, of course, with Tim Harrington emerging in silver bodypaint and fake-sheep-fur cape, informing us that this next song is the band's favorite from Root To Ruin, though they only just learned it: echo-box beergut-gaze jam, "Clear Spirits," which Tim swears is "just for us--I don't care if you like it or not." Find such indifference hard to believe coming from a guy onstage in his jockey shorts, but, hey, nice sweat stains.
Critical Bias: Would like to take this opportunity to apologize publicly for hatching this review format four years ago. Just be glad the rating system didn't stick.
Random Notebook Dump: Tim Harrington put a bread-bag on his head too.
Overheard: [Girl] "I want to take the cocaine onstage and give it to him."; [Guy] "You know he'd just throw it on the crowd." [Me] "---"