By now, most people who’ve heard (of) Les Savy Fav know their live show is more spectacle than concert. This is due in large part to front-man Tim Harrington, whose no-holds-barred antics could probably attract the same crowd sizes on their own. This isn’t to knock Les Savy Fav’s music, or their ability to play it in a live setting – there’d be nothing wrong with watching them stand or dance around like any other band. But with songs as sexually charged and defiant as theirs, the baccanalian atmosphere just drives the point home.
Their Noise Pop closing show at San Francisco’s the Mezzanine was no exception, with Harrington in top form from the moment he walked on stage. He arrived covered in toilet paper, claiming it was a cask from a biking accident, before he quipped that it reminded him of a tampon, then doused himself in water and shook toilet-paper-mache over an already rapt crowd. The only way to make an entrance like that even better? By opening with “What Would Wolves Do?,” “In time we will show the world why the world made us.”
Les Savy Fav, “What Would Wolves Do?” (download)
Since Harrington just handles vocal duties, his theatrics still leave guitarists Seth Jabour and Andrew Reuland, drummer Harrison Haynes and bassist Syd Butler free to concentrate on the technical aspects of the performance, delivering a tight series of pounding noise-dance-rage tunes. Harrington’s actions are pure spur of the moment, though, so the other band members were often as wide-eyed or slack-jawed as the audience.
The setlist crossed every era of the band, from the grit of their early albums, 3/5 (“Je T’Aime”) and The Cat and the Cobra (“Dishonest Don, Part 2,” “Who Rocks The Party”), to their poppier newest release, Let’s Stay Friends (“The Equestrian,” “Patty Lee”).
Les Savy Fav, “Who Rocks the Party” (download)
As they drew closer to a finale, it became clear that Les Savy Fav’s ability to deliver a flawless performance stems from their ability to accept flaws and improvisation. As Harrington climbed around the audience during the encore, he seguewayed into a spontaneous verse of, “This is my body / This is what it does / I try to make it better / But I know it’s gonna bust,” pointing the mic at audience members to invite their contribution. But the night was far from a bust, as he ended the show sitting on stage, overlooking the crowd like a proud father.
What Would Wolves Do?
Yawn Yawn Yawn
We’ll Make A Lover Of You
Hold On To Your Genre
Dishonest Don, Part 2
The Lowest Bitter
Encore: Raging in the Plague Age
Who Rocks The Party