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BEING THERE: Savages @ Union Transfer

Photo by PETE TROSHAK

UK post-punk priestesses the Savages have been a band for less than two years and released their debut album just two months ago. In that short window they have been so relentlessly hyped as “the next big thing” that the inevitable “they aren’t THAT good” backlash has already begun. Sunday night at Union Transfer Savages proved, to this reviewer anyway, that they are more steak than sizzle. They took the stage stealthily, clad in ninja-like black outfits and opened with the Siouxsie-ian roar of “I Am Here.” Message: Get used to it. Gemma Thompson throttled her guitar and let loose a squall of sound that lit the fuse on a 40-minute blast of primal shriek-and-shred. Drummer Fay Milton was all flailing hair and cymbals. Bass player Ayse Hassan dropped thunderous cluster bombs of low end with her eyes wide shut. Singer Jehnny Beth announced her presence with a pained banshee wail, declaring in no uncertain terms that “the world is with me, and you’re coming for the ride.” Beth spent the next eleven songs making sure the ride was unforgettable, stalking the stage with venom in her voice and knives in her eyes. Highlights included a slow-building “Strife,” a raw, emotive “Flying To Berlin” and the angry storm of “Shut Up.” However, the band’s real statement came in their closing song. They played an unreleased song called “Fuckers,” during which Beth repeatedly intoned “don’t let the fuckers get you down.” Was it just another deathless angst-wracked punk song that makes you want to break shit, or the mantra of game-changing upstarts slaying the naysayers with three chords and the truth? All the above. – PETE TROSHAK

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