BY TIM HINELY
This was a heavily anticipated gig and judging by the packed house it looks like it was for several other folks as well. I had heard very little music by Duke Garwood, but judging by his name alone—and his look—you’d think he might be herding cattle in Wyoming. But no, he was standing on the Bluebird stage with a guitar in hand and he had a pal next to him, also with guitar; they additionally had backing tapes with drums. The music? Not the straight country I was expecting, but something much darker, more sinister, like he’s the bastard child of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey (only he’s probably older than both of them … figure that one out!). Not something I’d drop and play at any given moment, but it does have it time and place.
The witching hour came at 10:15 PM and out came the four ladies of Savages. Their debut record, Silence Yourself, was released on Matador a few months back along with a fair amount of well-deserved hype. Dressed entirely in black, they opened up with “I Am Here” then led into the crowd-favorite “Shut Up.” Vocalist Jehnny Beth offered some choice words to the crowd in her thick German accent (“I am a dirty dog…”) while the rest of the band, guitarist Gemma Thompson, bassist Ayse Hassan and drummer Faye Milton, were entranced in their own worlds. The band continued to hammer their point home for a good hour and fifteen minutes leading up to a set-ending version of “Fuckers” which was amazing. That locked groove lasted for a solid 10 minutes until they had no more to give, and they left the nearly sold-out crowd beaten yet content.
They came out for a few encores (the first one being a Suicide cover and the 2nd one with vocalist on an electric piano and a guesting Garwood on his dented, beaten sax). Encores weren’t bad, but after the devastating regular set, a bit anti-climactic. A small quibble as this bunch more than earned their keep tonight.