A few weeks ago, while on an eventful week-long bender in New York City, I had the opportunity to see Savages at the Bowery. It was the final night of an endless week of copious amounts of alcohol and delicious NYC food. Not only was I coming down with a cold, but I had just recovered from a stomach bug (which I was still partying with). But enough with the excuses, I basically missed a great opportunity to see these badass London babes perform in NYC. Needless to say, I gave them my complete and undivided attention last night at the Echo.
Savages’ peformance at the tiny Echo Park venue was incredible. Hands down, as an all-girl rock band — Savages are blowing all others out of the fucking water. However, it shouldn’t stop at “all-girl rock band.” Heather Fortune, an equally dominating and talented musician and front-woman of the post-punk outfit Wax Idols, made a great point while Tweeting to me last night: “all-girl = counter-productive. They’re just a great band, period.” My reply to her wise response: TRUE THAT.
Opening up for Savages was a performer I had never heard. Walking into the Echo, I was greeted by a lanky, pale woman on stage practically ranting, rather than singing. And to top it all off, she was topless. Just like her moniker, she was wearing No Bra. With a pair of not-very-succulent breasts dangling before her, I had to give the almost skeletal figure some credit for having the balls (or should I rephrase to “having the tits”) to perform on stage practically naked. Her voice was not appealing, at times I could not understand her “spoken-word” beneath a cloud of monotone vocals, and the creepy electronic beats accompanying her performance did nothing for me. Some of you may call this an artistic performance, and I bet you also refer to a blob of layered oils as a “masterpiece” — but there was nothing masterful about this gimmick. “Do her, fuck her, she takes it up the ass, I can tell by the smile on here face …” C’mon, dude.
Enough with the shock-value gimmick, the four-piece female-led musicians known as Savages quenched my thirst for a masterful performance that would blow my mind. Clad in black, with pixie cuts and Flock of Seaguls bangs, these ladies invited you into their dark post-punk garage. Resembling a young Winona Ryder, when she rocked that adorable pixie ‘do — leading lady, Jehnny Beth confidently owned that stage like a woman proudly owning her first pair of Alexander McQueen stiletto boots. Entrancing the crowd before her with her heavily influenced Siouxsie and the Banshees style, there is also an element of Pati Smith to Jehnny’s swagger. Her confidence, her I-dont-give-a-fuck attitude, and her ability to tell a story even through all the enticing and powerful instrumentals, which you can easily get lost in — totally have the characteristics of the “Godmother of punk.”
All together, Savages absolutely murdered the stage. Complementing Jehnny’s vocals was a colossal explosion of post-punk perfection. Guitarist, Gemma Thompson; bassist, Ayse Hassan and drummer, Fay Milton are some badass bitches. I’ve never heard punk this loud, sound so clean and powerful at the Echo. Songs such as “Flying To Berlin” took us back to that English disco and had all the old farts in the crowd gyrating like Ian Curtis. By the way, I consider myself one of the old farts when it comes to the Echo. It was refreshing to attend a punk show at the infamous Echo Park venue known for breaking the best acts, without the infestation of grimy garage/punk kids. The average age last night was probably 35 and I was happy to finally be among the “young.”
Whipping out that Siouxsie and the Banshees ferocity, “Husbands” had me banging my head as though it were Siouxsie’s “Spellbound” or “Helter Skelter.” This song is manic, and I loved every crazy and unhinged part of it.
Hand down, Savages are the best new band out there right now, however, they’ve been doing it since 2011. These ladies know how to do it and they do it extremely well.
Words: Sandra Burciaga
Photography: Tony Moore
Click through the photo gallery below for more photos of Savages (and No Bra) at the Echo!