By Jake Paxton
A fully-packed venue for an emerging post-punk/noise act is always a good sign of society moving in the right direction; culturally, spiritually, and, in a sense, fundamentally. Last week at Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom, all the way from London, England, all-female group Savages brought their unique je ne sais pas of noise and flair to devastate over three-hundred people for an uninterrupted hour-and-a-half. Bereft of a single moment of downtime, this group demonstrated a raucous performance showcasing violent professionalism; a truly memorable experience for which even the highly engaging studio recordings do not do justice.
Without delay, the group took to the stage and began “I Am Here,” a single from 2013’s Silence Yourself, a seemingly very Queens of the Stone Age inspired arrangement. Frontwoman Jehnny Beth has been compared to Siousxie Sioux, yet manages to fully distinguish herself in her nearly hypnotic onstage persona very reminiscent of late 70’s-mid 80’s punk. She wears a dark collared shirt with sleeves rolled and unbuttoned exposing a black bra beneath. Her voice is dark, rapturous and commanding, the icing atop the black velvet cake of the relationship of the musical pairings that the other three female band members generate. Staying true to the glory days of the post-punk movement of the 80’s, later revitalized by bands in the 90’s such as The Pixies, the guitar and bass play very different riffs strung together by mostly tom-heavy drumming patterns. This creates a highly immersive and ominous feeling in the audience member, which Savages would sieve between punch, incredibly loud bursts of noise as represented by “Husbands” played midway through the set.
Iconic moments include a poem from Beth where she repeated “I asked the world and the world said no,” which was immediately picked up by the audience and became a sort of call-and-response. This led into “Shut Up,” where Beth asked midway through the song if the audience would catch her if she fell, to which the audience replied with thunderous cheers. She would later stage-dive into the audience multiple times. During “The Answer,” the opening track of newly-released Adore Life, Beth stood up on top of the audience, belting out in her manner.
The show reached its climax ironically as the energy fell sharply as they played “Adore”, the titular track from Adore Life, a song in which she professes her clearly passionate appreciate of life, though I have yet to know for sure if the message is sincere or tongue-in-cheek as it is a rather moody song that certainly showcases their dynamics of low-energy to high-energy. The band announces that this will be there last song and goes into “Fuckers,” a song not off either of their records but rather buried in their catalog of lightly released singles. The song caps the set with full force energy and at the end the audience is in a frenzied state wanting more.
Devastating is a word to describe the event, and Beth promised that they would return. The four women took a very dignified bow and left to a thunderous reaction. As a fan since their first album and having never seen them live, I must say on a personal note that my already high expectations were far surpassed and I would recommend to anyone to witness for themselves… the devastation.