Prior to heading to Los Angeles’ FYF Fest for a Saturday, Aug. 22, performance, the London-based band the Savages made its first appearance on the West Coast at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Aug. 20.
This may have been the first adobe movie-set cantina in which this band has played. The Savages brought a lattice backdrop and special LED lighting that gave the stage the feel of a dark, smoky cabaret, thanks in part to a dry-ice machine.
French-born vocalist Jehnny Beth greeted fans with, “Hello! Are you all right? You are really close,” before kicking things off with distortion-heavy “I Am Here,” off of the Savages’ 2013 debut album, Silence Yourself. When you hear Beth sing, you think you may have discovered Lene Lovich and Peter Murphy’s secret musical protégé. The song brought to life some meatheads in the audience, who created an impromptu mosh pit. There was no sign of Big Dave, the bouncer, who usually puts a stop to such shenanigans—but a little moshing is always a plus at a venue that normally quells such activity.
Lucky for me, I stood next a metal pole that is perfect to hold, so you do not fly onto the stage. I was also fortunate to be with Rocio, a hard-core music fan I see at shows all over Southern California. Her training, courtesy of the Marines, helps her in these post-punk-pit situations.
Jehnny Beth at one point addressed an unprofessional photographer who was blasting her with a flash: “No flash. I do not have the complexion for that.” She then quickly introduced an appropriate song: “This is ‘Shut Up.’”
After saying the band was going to play some brand-new songs, Beth introduced one: “The Answer.” Beth showed love to the audience by making sure she made eye contact with her smoldering eyes, even though signs through out the venue reminded everyone to keep the cell phones away. Beth then introduced “Adore,” by saying, “All right: One more new song, and then we play the hits.”
The show included “No Face,” which showcases the shredding kick-ass guitar skills of Gemma Thompson.
Summoning the women in the audience by saying, “Ladies in the front! Come on, ladies. This is for the ladies,” she began “She Will.” Ayse Hassan dropped heavy bass lines that would have fit in at warehouse shows in San Pedro during the old hard-core punk days in So Cal. Fay Milton destroyed the kit with her awesome pummeling.
After the band played “Husbands,” Beth thanked the fans before saying: “This is the last song, and you know what? The Savages never do encores, but this is a long song.”
As she spoke, some tussling broke out in the crowd. After acknowledging it, she continued: “Don’t let the fuckers let you down. So are we going to play this song, or what? We are going to go home and come back, and we are going to do this again. Is that a deal?”
The audience responded with a scream. Beth said: “This song is called “Fuckers.”
Rocio allowed me to share her eloquent mini-review, as posted on social media: “Tonight’s show at Pappy and Harriet’s was almost indescribable. Never have I seen a band for the first time only knowing a couple songs that captured my attention as fully as Savages did. The atmosphere they created by the backdrop, lights and no-flash requirement created an aura of mystery so tangible, men and women alike fell in love with the all-female foursome.”