Savages - Bowery Ballroom - 3/18/13
Better Than: Having to head to SXSW or Coachella to see them.
When did people stop dancing at shows? Everything about Savages' searing set last night at Bowery Ballroom called for some type of visceral, full-body reaction from the audience, and that call was barely heeded.
It wasn't the band's fault. The group gave the type of live show that's filled with the kinds of loud noises and distortion that feel like they're puncturing your lungs while attempting to manually increase your heart rate. It was post-punk discordance that gave bite without sacrificing the punch.
See also: The Best Shows at SXSW This Year
The idea of a messy discordance, though, has been heavily cultivated and perfected by Jehn, Gemma, Ayşe, and Fay -- each member retains a near-virtuosic excellence in musicianship that, when pieced together, creates a vibrantly rich sound. Aggro drum beats layered with a thick, semi-funky bass lines and topped off with a fuzzy, but cutting guitar were neither overshadowing nor fighting against lead singer Jehn's angry whine and fluidly jerky movements behind her microphone stand.
The UK quartet's set played out like hazy aftermath after "No Face" gave a firecracker-type opening. With a very British gloominess providing near-sinister undertones, like on the single "Flying to Berlin," Savages felt compelling, the type of it's easy to become enamored with. Hearing Savages live gives their music an incomprehensible weight that subtracts some of the easy-to-use old-school comparisons and showcases them as the refreshingly modern act they are.
About that lack of movement: maybe I'm being a bit harsh. While the first half of the show appeared to be a still but vocal response to a band that deserved much more, the second became a looser experience. By the final song of the night, "Husbands," Savages blossomed from created chaos into a sneering force of skillfully utilized nostalgia, and the room pulsated with a tangible energy. Itt began on stage, but had taken its time to be passed through the crowd. Maybe next time we'll give in sooner.
Critical Bias: I'm massively supportive of two things: female musicians getting the due they deserve and anything punk derivative. The concert was a good combination of the two.
Overheard: "Everyone liked Papa Roach when they were 14." This was not the time nor the place to bring up Papa Roach.
Random Notebook Dump: Massive thank you to the few kids who started pogoing right off the bat. Keep up the good work, guys.
Savages perform again tonight, March 19, at Music Hall of Williamsburg.