Savages, Head Wound City at Commonwealth

Wednesday 25th, May 2016 / 19:24
By Jamie McNamara
Savages at Commwealth. Photo: Michael Grondin

Savages at Commwealth.
Photo: Michael Grondin

May 24, 2016

CALGARY — When London post-punk band Savages burst onto the scene in 2013, it was on the back of a fiery live show that only seemed to up the intensity found on their debut album. The passing years have found the band solidifying their claim as one of the best touring bands of the moment, but until Tuesday night, Calgarians never had a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

Head Wound City at Commonwealth. Photo: Michael Grondin

Head Wound City at Commonwealth.
Photo: Michael Grondin

The quartet, consisting of vocalist Jehnny Beth, guitarist Gemma Thompson, bassist Ayse Hassan, and drummer Fay Milton, played a revelatory set to a packed Commonwealth that seemed even more intimate than usual.

The night began with recently reunited mid-aughts supergroup Head Wound City. The group, featuring members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Blood Brothers, and The Locust, played a raucous mix of noise and hardcore that was technically impressive, but not entirely pleasing to the small crowd gathered. The group tore through a mix of old songs and material off of their freshly released album A New Wave of Violence, but their punishing sonics might have been better suited for a later night.

The most impressive thing about Savages’ jaw-dropping performance is just how simple it is. The band wears all black, and flashy stage effects are kept to a minimum. Instead, white strobes flashing only intensify the manic performance put on by frontwoman Jehnny Beth. Beth’s ability to stir up a crowd is a treat to watch, she commands the room, often stopping to make direct eye contact with crowd members mid-song. Beth’s interaction with the crowd seemed to forge genuine connection between the audience and the band, her attempts to reach out to the audience always met with adoration. Savages’ music is often intense, but the band does well to offer levity to the audience with songs like “Sad Person,” and the stunning “Surrender.” The night eventually reached it’s emotional zenith with the performance of the gorgeously earnest ballad “Adore,” which was met with a healthy chorus of fans singing along.

Savages at Commonwealth. Photo: Michael Grondin

Savages at Commonwealth.
Photo: Michael Grondin

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