Show Review

Savages @ Grog Shop 5/18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   (Sanchez/2016)
Lisa Sachez​

Savages commanded the Grog Shop stage on Wednesday, May 18. The band had their own lighting set up (which is a welcome relief as a photographer, because all of the Grog’s lights make someone look like they’re on fire or under water). It’s just simple white lights focused diagonally at each end of the stage with lead singer Jehnny Beth standing tall and ready to perform.
 
When I first herd Savages’ most recent album, Adore Life, I was enthralled by it. It’s atmospheric and droning, but punctuated by Beth’s elegant vocals, guitarist Gemma Thompson’s exceptional musical talent, and lyrics that cut you to the bone. I tried to write an album review of Adore Life when it was released in January, but I kept getting lost in the album’s dips, its pulls, and overall power.
 
The band appropriately announced their arrival at the Grog Shop by playing “I Am Here” off of their first full-length album, Silence Yourself. I was immediately taken with the focus of all the women on stage, including bassist Ayse Hassan, who proceeded to sway and seem serene throughout Savages' performance. Of course, the stand out is the singer Beth, who fluctuates between flawless, strong vocals and an ethereal conversational singing. Beth is easily one of the strongest vocalists I’ve seen live, both technically and in her command of the stage and the crowd.
 
The crowd seemed as absorbed in Savages as I was when I first heard them. People couldn’t take their eyes off the stage for good reason. Beth performs how I imagine David Bowie and the greats before her attack the stage. She connected with every person in the crowd with her intense eyes, constant movements, and her never-ending crowd surfing. By my final count, the vocalist dove into the crowd at least five times and never missed a note or a beat.
 
Much of the material on Adore Life is heavily synthed out and atmospheric. Savages actually had a special sound board set up in the back of the venue to capture their essence of their album live, which, upon first glance I was a little hesitant about. It’s one thing to want to try to sound like the album, but for some reason the presence of a huge sound board created a disconnect in my mind. Were the band going to sound organic? Was it going to be just like listening to Adore Life in the comfort of my own home but with a hundred other assholes in the room?
 
I’m pleased to announce that despite their extra technical accouterments, Savages still bring a ton of raw, real energy to the stage. It’s not like watching a band that solely relies on auto tune or other sound altering effects. Savages breaks a sweat on stage because they’re playing as well as they can. All the other stuff is just to give the audience that extra bite that Savages has cultivated so well in songs like “Evil,” “Husbands,” and “Adore.”    
 The quartet closed out the evening as appropriately as they began it with an encore of “Fuckers” which has the amazingly simple, but beautiful chorus, “Don’t let the fuckers get you down.” For their last song, Beth crowd surfed to the back of the venue and crouched on the shoulders of a few male fans. The tableau itself seemed immensely powerful in conjunction with the song and the band’s overall aesthetic. I think we have a new “We Are the Champions” on our hands over here.           
 
Savages are more than a band with tight black jeans and flawless makeup. They are young Sleater-Kinney. They are early Nine Inch Nails. They are Velvet Underground with more talent and drive. I saw them on stage and witnessed some of the most talented, best composed songs I’ve possibly ever seen. It’s not what Savages say, it’s who they are; the band the new generation needs.