Savages

support A Dead Forest Index
author PP date 06/03/14 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It's with a puzzled and anxious mind that I find myself approaching Store Vega tonight to review a show by Savages, who were recently mathematically determined to be the #14 most hipster band in the world using an index that compared critical acclaim against social media activity regarding the band. Anxious, because I thought Savages were terrible at their Roskilde Festival show last year (I walked away after three songs), and because having listened through their full-length I had determined it's not my cup of tea. Puzzled, because I couldn't for the life of me figure out how the show could have possibly been upgraded to Store Vega and sold upwards from 850 tickets tonight. Who is buying tickets to see these guys? That said, decision was made to cover this for Rockfreaks.net with an open-mind, because after all, Savages could surprise positively and justify all the hype they have been receiving from hipster music sites like Pitchfork.

A Dead Forest Index

A Dead Forest Index

But first, let's talk about the support band, the Australian duo A Dead Forest Index. Dressed in some kind of aboriginal Australian attire, the next 35 minutes were spent exploring minimalistic ambiance and atmospheres in experimental manner. Live recorded loops for vocals, rhythmic percussion using soft puffy drumsticks instead of regular ones, and that sort of thing. Occasionally the crescendos lead into some cacophony that contrasts the otherwise floaty atmospheres, and you can tell that the focus is on deliberate and slow construction of detailed, albeit minimalistically-so, soundscapes throughout the set. On stage, however, nothing really of noteworthy is happening at all. The vocalist stands still, the drummer is softly tapping the rhythm, meaning that it's so quiet that no earplugs are needed and loud chatter by the crowd can be heard throughout the set. The thing is, if you're going to stand still, you must have amazing songs to pull it off. Here, it is not the case, but the songs are good enough to keep me interested, despite zero interaction with the crowd from the band's side.

Savages

Another interesting observation I make prior to the Savages show start is how there are virtually zero people wearing band t-shirts at a show that is supposed to be a post-punk show. Those that you see, are of the Ramones variety, i.e. shirts worn for their style rather than for their substance. Why is this important? Because it's a telling sign for what kind of audience we are dealing with tonight. This isn't a crowd of music enthusiasts rather than people who are here just because they've bought the hype about the band in some magazine or via their hipster friends. This is reflected by how silent and quiet it is from the crowd's side both during the songs (no sing alongs tonight whatsoever) as well as after: I think there's something wrong with the band on stage if they can't even muster a loud cheer from close to 900 people in attendance prior to the encore.

Savages

"This song is about a car crash......" (long pause) "...that you don't come back from", is how their vocalist Jehnny Beth introduces "Flying To Berlin" in a manner that can only be described as ridiculous. I roll my eyes and watch the crowd engage in a very brief clap along - one of the only ones in existence tonight - all the while the band is practically standing still on stage. There's very little movement; bassist Ayse Hassan is the only one showing any signs of energy, Beth herself is staying in her small comfort zone area not really offering anything to look at during the set. At the same time, the music is neither catchy nor particularly depth-laden or featuring vivid displays of technique, so they aren't able to carry the show on their shoulders either. The film noir vibe to a couple of songs is interesting, but not enough to convince me otherwise.

This continues for about an hour and I find myself asking towards the end: "Why is this hyped?" I was hoping to see the light of why Savages are so critically acclaimed by so few magazines, but instead what I observed was a facade. People in attendance may think what they're seeing here is cool, and you can't blame them because they definitely don't know better, this is what happens sometimes when key industry players hype a band far beyond their intrinsic value. So I can't help but feel a little pity for them, because the majority of these people will never, ever experience the same sense of empowerment and unity as, just to take one example, that sense of community when Rise Against played at this same venue. "Don't let the fuckers get you down" spoken word bit after the encore is supposed to be inspirational, but rather it's laughable at best.

Savages

In summary, Savages are boring. They don't do anything to engage the audience, have next to no movement on stage, and don't have the songs to get away with it. A few upbeat tracks in the end are decent to good, but as a whole this entire set reeks of pretension and, at least to me, transparent efforts at having artistic integrity. In the end, it's all about the songs. Savages don't have what it takes. Let's revisit in three years and discover how they're all but forgotten.

Photos by: Peter Troest

Setlist:

  • 1. I Am Here
  • 2. Flying To Berlin
  • 3. City's Full
  • 4. Shut Up
  • 5. I Need Something New
  • 6. Strife
  • 7. Waiting
  • 8. She Will
  • 9. No Face
  • 10. Husbands
  • 11. Hit Me
  • 12. Fuckers

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