By Seamus Simpson
I went to see Les Savy Fav at the Echoplex a couple of weeks ago based on a memory from almost eight years ago. See, I moved to wonderful Los Angeles for good way back in the year 2003, and one of the last shows I ever saw in my fair hometown of Houston was the Faint & Les Savy Fav. I went to the show at the request of friend who assured me I would be blown away. I was a bit of a musical Luddite at that time and stuck in my little indie rock world. Two things happened to me that night; I was introduced to Duran Duran on speed and saw my first full-fledged art rock band since my years of seeing Sonic Youth, and they were from New York too! I would for years remember the awesome stage show the Faint put on, but would never forget my first run in with Tim Harrington.
The man is a force of nature.
So with this reminiscence in mind I took my antibiotics and vicodin, as I had just had major mouth surgery, and took off for the venue. Good thing for the vicodin since the dentist said I wasn’t allowed to drink. I hate that dentist.
With only two bands playing I got there in plenty of time to catch the opener, locals Dirt Dress. My first impression was they had a good idea, but seemed to beat you over the head with it. There is the heart of a great garage band in there, but as a band they never really seemed reach out and grab me. The energy drained from the band as the show went on. To be fair the soundman seemed to not know what to do with their reverb-drenched guitar sound and the vocals suffered.
That said, hearing the vocals better may not have saved the show for them. My main problem with the set was the use of the said the reverb turned up to 11 throughout the entire set. It would have been nice to hear the songs open themselves up without having to hide behind the reverb every time. You can never tell if a song is really good or not when you have such a hard time making out the notes. Look, I am not saying do not use it all, but a little more variety in sound might have been nice.
All in all, I think they will develop well and be able to meet the artistic vision with the sound soon enough. I would recommend checking them out if you have time, but maybe in a smaller setting where you could feel the band more.
Next Les Savy Fav took the stage. The first thing that struck me and had me immediately intrigued was the band had added a second guitar player since I had last seen them. The band did not disappoint. Tim Harrington entered stage left wearing a cape and pope’s hat once for all answering the age old question of whether a pope does indeed where a funny hat. The band proceeded to tear up the stage for the next hour and a half. Although I am not completely familiar with the bands discography I was more than entertained to just listen to the band and watch the antics of their amazing lead singer who at certain points danced on people’s heads, kissed various members of the audience male and female, climbed the rafters only to complain of the dust, and more or less made everyone there feel like they were getting their money's worth.
Songs like “the Equestrian,” "What Would Wolves Do?" and "Wake Up" sound even more alive than they do on the recordings, hard to believe. Even “What Would Wolves Do?” took on a distinctly more punk feel than the more “new wave-y” sounding recorded version.
The thing that really sold me was the band itself. They played what can only be described as a “walk down the underground/hardcore gardens of the 90’s” and it was so amazing. The band play songs, which musically in years past would have been accompanied with some whiney lead singer complaining about his feelings, but the whiney vocals have been replaced with a madman and I can say whole-heartedly, it works.
If you get a chance to this band on their current tour I cannot recommend enough for you to catch them.