Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Savages at the Mercury Lounge

Jehnny Beth
In Poitiers, France, the theater director parents of Camille Berthomier would not let her watch television or do "kid things," she has stated. Instead, she tasted the entertainment world touring with her father's plays. In her late teens, she met Nicolas CongĂ©, and in 2006 they relocated to London, England, adopting new names, Johnny Hostile and Jehnny Beth, to form the indie rocking John and Jehn. Gemma Thompson played guitar for them, but then had a concept for a band called Savages. Hostile declined being in the band, leaving Beth as the lone vocalist. With Ayse Hassan on bass and Fay Milton on drums, Savages became an all-female post-punk revival rock quartet, formed in October 2011 and debuted live in January 2012. The band's debut album, Silence Yourself, was released in 2013.

Savages started 2015 with an extended residency in New York City, playing nine shows in three music clubs, trying out before a live audience a collection of songs written since the band's world tour concluded in 2013. "Can you boo us if you don’t like it?" Beth asked the audience four songs into their second of three Wednesday nights at the Mercury Lounge tonight. The set consisted of six older songs and eight new songs. Fans, rejoice; the new songs, which will be recorded for a 2015 studio album, are as good or better than the band's earlier material. With the next album, Savages will be huge. The music is a barrage of noisy guitar sounds, held together by a somewhat sinister-sounding bass line, crashing drums and sultry, hypnotic vocals. Brash and biting, Thompson ripped through volatile thrashing chords, occasionally breaking through with a squealing lead. Beth apologetically said her voice was a bit hoarse, but vocal style was a greater asset than range in the throbbing thunder produced by Savages. She increased the intensity of the songs' adrenaline pulse by repeating lyric lines over and over again, each time more demanding and punishing. Although permission was granted earlier on, by show's end no one had reason to boo.

Savages return to the Mercury Lounge on January 28. Visit Savages at