Savages? Who are they? Four women from London, aka British chicks. They rule. I did blog about them not so long ago. I saw a great show two nights ago at the Metro Club in Chicago. This is a great venue. Basically its across from Wrigley Field on Clark Street. For me its sort of enemy territory because I am a White Sox fan and not a Cubs one, sorry. This street however extends for a couple of miles filled with bars and bars and bars. There are some restaurants and Tapas too. T Shirt shops and record shops, you know? Lots of college age appeal on Clark Street in Chicago’s north side near Lincoln Park. It’s a party community. Lovely I tell you.
Yet, I would have never imagined a band like Savages would be playing there. I only really discovered them about five months ago. I haven’t been a longtime fan. Although I believe they only formed about 2 years ago. I think this 4 piece “all female band” put out an EP and they played several gigs in their homeland until their first LP, “Silence Yourself” which was released this past May. I can’t remember how I came across them. Kind of a stumbling upon sort of accident. Must have been flipping through the internet. Cruising through random sites and sampling a few tracks and such. It was almost like the universe suggested this record to me and that I will see them live, someday.
For about a year, recently I was on a kick listening to bands like: The Who, Japandroids, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Husker Du and other Post-Punk groups. So I was digging the late 70’s and early 80’s music for awhile. Perhaps because I was spinning these records and doing random searches; I came across Savages. I started to notice some striking connections to the above mentioned rock bands. It really is an amalgamation of that kind of music. Their inspiration comes from a lot of places as well. But I only initially read that information without listening. Blind faith brought me to them. I initially listened to them at work with my iPhone shoved in my pocket and earbuds tucked in my music-hungry earlobes while signing in several packages on the dock.I was struck by this obscure dialogue from a film introducing the album about listening and communicating from youth to elders, I think. All while sorting through packages in the mailroom.Then the bass guitar started ripping through very crisp and aggressively. It was loud but clear. Somehow it was silently loud and then the drums and guitar join in at a pleasurable pace. It really oozed out punk style but not too fast. A nice pace, for sure.
The band, Fugazi comes to mind whenever I hear these opening riffs.Its good to hear this kind of sound coming back in this day and age. It requires bravery to step out of your comfort zone and tell it like it is. What do I mean? Man, I don’t know how to describe these girls. Its very tight musicianship. That’s for sure. All four members are amazing. At times I can hear the New-Wave style of guitar playing too. I tend to be reminded of early R.E.M. sounds, I don’t know why, I just do. Jenny Beth, our frontwoman has quite a stage presence. Somehow, I convinced my wife to go with me.I should probably backtrack again because I’m all over the place.
The allure and excitement of hearing this hypnotic, gothic, post-punk, aggressive and this British politically charged music was enough to make me shiver with enthusiasm. I definitely listened to these girls obsessively all summer long. It has an addictive sound. I knew all along that I wanted to see Savages, somehow. A small club like Metro would be an awesome place. Never thought that I would get a chance to see them either, it was just sort of out of my mind. Then about 6 weeks ago I found out that they were. So I was like, OMG! I jumped on that opportunity right away!
I purchased 2 tickets because, you never know. I guess I had some expectations that somebody would tag along with me but I just couldn’t find anyone. So what was I gonna do with the other ticket? I wasn’t trying to force anyone to go with me. Yet, Denielle, my wife said that she would go with me and be a good sport. She didn’t have to, especially since she was feeling a little “under the weather.” Perhaps she didn’t want me to be alone or whatever. She’s a great backup buddy at live shows. She’s an awesome lady! Not entirely her cup of tea but she kept me company. No guilt trips! She was a trooper.
We drove through the congested gauntlet of Interstate 294, the merges and the one way streets of Chi-Town in order to reach “the venue.” It was worth the rush hour traffic. It was a 9:00 pm show on a Monday night. Talk about dedication man! We have no kids and I strategically planned a half day off the following morning so that I wouldn’t be all crabby at work the next day. It’s good to sleep in when you get home a quarter after midnight.I could sleep longer, stretch, shower, eat breakfast and most importantly not rush off to work until the afternoon. Standing outside on the sidewalk and waiting to get inside while the Autumn air is chilly and crisp and I am keeping my wife safe and warm putting my arm around her. People watching and chatting with others can be a fun time. Its cool and you’re hanging with other devoted fans, all there for the same purpose. To ROCK! I made sure that we bee-lined it for the mighty “chairs” upstairs by the balcony so we can sit down and not crank our necks all night or get cramps in our feet from standing all night while tilting our heads up either.
We ordered a couple of sodas and satisfied our thirsts. The waitress brings the drinks right to our tiny and cozy little table. It was nice and refreshing. It was a blistering performance that night.The stage handlers and roadies were going at it ferociously on the stage setting everything up and making sure the lighting, the sounds and plugs were all hooked up. Crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. Strumming the guitars, banging the drums and making sure the mics picked everything up. They even laid out the ladies water bottles out precisely. These girls were certainly getting the royal treatment.
The vamping music is always a fun treat. At any concert, especially big acts like NIN or Pink Floyd…the really good concerts, you just hear that echoing kind of like electronica that feels like that of an anticipating crowd. It feels like…..WE ARE READY! You….sitting there…watching it all…and you
are staring in anticipation to the point where your blood’s almost boiling and rising because you’re like OMG I am here….and then…….the lights go off and everybody is cheering and stomping their feet saying OH YEA! Fog machine kicks in, spotlights dim and the 4 ladies come onto the stage and grace us with their presence all dressed in black.
They just busted out right into it man! I love all of the instrumentation and all of the musicians but sometimes my eyes tend to gravitate towards the drummer because she’s really technical and really knows when to crash the cymbals, the high hats, the bass drum and the snares and all of it when precision. It was amazing watching Fay Milton twirl the sticks in her hands and her technical delivery. Brilliant! Then there’s Ayse Hassan, the bassist. Doing an in place kind of dance swaying back and forth but really into a rhythm with her head titled down bobbing her head a little bit and wailing away on that 4 stringed instrument.
The lead guitarist, Gemma Thompson, again she’s all over the place. She keeps walking back and forth towards the large amp and back out to the stage. She was doing all kinds of cool effects; sliding, screeching and thumping. Effects with feedback and twangs and tweaking and just making a lot of cool noise. She really busted out into some really standard rock n roll guitar riffs. Really versatile. Finally our lady front and center, Jenny Beth, knew how to work that mic. She has her high pitches and her low pitches. She has her dialect. Sometimes she will narrate part of the lyrics and tell stories of mystery and wonder. She spoke out against using your phones during the performance and not being so distracted which I thought was a nice brave statement. ( I only snuck a couple during the encore) All she wanted for us was to immerse ourselves within this musical experience and that’s what we surely did.
That night they exceeded my expectations. I was blown away by the performance. I was treated to a wonderful night at Metro. It was invigorating and lively. Just plain Awesome! Thank you and good night.