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Savages Pitchfork Review: These Women Killed It

The London-based foursome brought a powerful, entrancing performance to a hot stage on Saturday afternoon.

Photo: Clayton Hauck

Like a group of seasoned lionesses going for a well-practiced coordinated kill, London-based quartet Savages launched into their show at Pitchfork like a band who’s done this a million times before.

And they murdered it. The band’s debut LP, Silence Yourself, has been climbing the charts across the pond, and the blogosphere buzz stateside peaked after the band’s electrifying show this year at South by Southwest. I was curious to see how Savages’ sonic sneer would translate in Union Park’s blaringly sunny landscape Saturday. Live photos I’d seen of the band depicted the four women enveloped in fog and moody lighting, which wouldn’t necessarily translate during their 4:15 time slot on the Green stage. 

As its unique blend of punk, metal, hardcore and post-punk elements suggests, the band doesn’t rely on props. Singer Jehnny Beth is one of the most powerful and entrancing front women I’ve seen since PJ Harvey. Her interpretive dance—a blend of violent hand shakes, stomping and wild head bangs—perfectly embodies the largely dystopian lyrics she delivers via vocals that recall the mystery of Siouxsie Sioux, the power of PJ Harvey, and at times the raw nakedness of Patti Smith. She doesn’t sound like any one of these women, but embodies all of them.

The quartet deftly raced through its catalogue as if its life was at stake—it was really hot on stage—and finished the agro marathon with nary a hint of fatigue.

You know it’s a good sign when both Michael Gira and Kim Deal mention your band’s name during their own sets. And judging by the wild cheers that met the four women at the set’s conclusion, I have a feeling those two weren’t the only ones blown away by the performance.  

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