Savages @ The Independent, SF 4/19/13
Some shows thrust you into an otherworldly experience that you simply aren’t prepared for. Though we’re grizzled veterans at the art of bopping along to live music, No Bra’s performance last Thursday night had us checking the audience every few minutes so as to make certain we hadn’t ended up in an underground Berlin nightclub. Let
us explain. No Bra is Susanne Oberbeck, a wiry frontwoman from London whose snarky, industrial goth delivery either makes you laugh or flinch. Besides not wearing a bra, which is totally acceptable and pretty much expected, she also whipped off her tank top after the first song. At first we weren’t sure if it was a shtick, but as the set progressed it fit damn well with the uncomfortably monotone lyrical content. Stand-out song was “Munchasen” by far: “Really? I got syphilis once in opening ceremony. Really? I had syphilis stage 3. Really? I had NSU! Really! I had 165 BMP! Really me too!” You get the picture.
Next up was Savages. Formed only in 2011, we’ve had our eye on them for awhile since we gave them the elusive “Cool Kid Award” at 2012’s CMJ (ahem..click HERE).
Providing darkly ethereal post-punk, the crests of reverberation and drum fills was a tautly produced difference from No Bra. Don”t confuse ethereal with soft or flimsy: instead, the vehement yet gorgeous intention behind the songs parallels the intensity of LOTR”s Galadriel, Cate Blanchett”s Elf Queen. Don”t flinch at our nerd knowledge, it”s totally true.
Their name derives from social Darwinism novels such as Lord of the Flies, and the music”s undercurrent of primal forces chaotically fit the selection. Lead singer Jehnny Beth prowled the stage, each movement deliberate and theatrical without being over the top.
The starkly dressed ladies played “Shut Up,” which begins with a spoken word segment about the world”s over-stimulation and the need for less distractions. Usually likened to being an all-female Joy Division, instead we think they have cleverly veered away from a superficial or derivative image, and that could transcend them from being just another post-punk buzz band. Beth ended the show with a brutal, broken scream, and left the audience dazed.
Check out all the great photos HERE.