If the world would shut up
Even for a while
We would start hearing
The distant rhythm
Of an angry young tune-“
Savages took the stage Wednesday night at the High Noon Saloon in complete silence before launching into an hour-long set of unmistakable intent. Jehnny Beth, vocalist, strutted around the stage, clamping the microphone in her fist and acting as bandleader. Gemma Thompson, guitarist, was equally fascinating to watch, punctuating the songs with a fierce rhythm and attention to detail. Rounding out the group are Ayse Hassan, bassist, and Fay Milton, drummer. Even though Beth acts as the mouthpiece for the group, Savages exists in such a way that the band wouldn’t exist without each member.
All of Savages’ image/principle is based on a central idea: they believe we live in a media-saturated, over stimulated world and as a result we are losing ourselves. Their aim is to play music that will put life and individuality back into each and every one of us. Nothing confirmed this belief more than their closing song, “Fuckers.” Beth prefaced the song by dedicating it to all the motherfuckers. “Name a few!” The crowd shouted out a number of answers: “Scott Walker!” “Tony Blair!” “James Cameron!” “Your mother?!” Beth laughed, before launching into the song’s chorus, “Don’t let the fuckers get you down.”
The band started off the set with “I Am Here,” the second song on their first studio album. The energy they created onstage was akin to the whirl of a tornado. When I first listened to Savages I was surprised to learn they were all women, and equally surprised when, that night, I saw that almost everyone in the crowd was a man. Men who really dug the music, too.
Beth introduced “She Will,” a personal favorite of mine, with the dedication, “This one is for the ladies.” It would be ignorant to think the band didn’t write with sexual politics in mind, but that concern doesn’t absolutely dominate their music making. Like so many other current female musicians, they address feminist issues within the larger scope of the world. Which is how it works in real life anyway, doesn’t it?
The set list included the entirety of Silence Yourself in addition to a few songs I couldn’t locate outside of Youtube, which included “Fuckers,” “Give Me A Gun,” and “I Need Something New.” “I Need Something New” started with the preface,
“I want something new in my ears-
Something I haven’t heard before
I am trying to recreate the heartbeat-
Well, they did recreate their heartbeat. I actually, no lie, felt like I was in the coolest club in Madison right then (it could have been in a basement in the 80’s). I saw my old painting professor at the show, and we later spoke about how Savages are a band that the music world so badly needs right now. A friend of his, after seeing them in Chicago, compared the experience to a sports fan seeing their favorite team win. I like to make my reviews as objective as possible, but seeing Savages was a truly magical experience. Don’t let the fuckers get you down.