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Live Review and Photos: Les Savy Fav, January 28, 2011, Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA


Now, let’s start with the negative. My one and only complaint with Les Savy Fav’s Friday night show at the Echoplex was that I wish the setlist was more varied than their previous performance at the same venue, about six months earlier. Les Savy Fav has such a solid and consistent back catalog that they could offer different older tunes and not take away from the quality of the set, whatsoever.

Otherwise, Les Savy Fav were their hilarious, tight, and energetic selves, blurring the line between parody and performance art and spectacle… I mean, they blurred the shit out of everything. At one point, Tim Harrington gave a monologue about sexual fantasies involving Christa McAuliffe, the teacher killed in the Challenger exhibition. “Solo launches,” he called them. It’s the kind of humor that would make you resign from your seat in the House of Representatives, but to a drunken crowd expecting the absurd, it was completely appropriate. We’re all going to hell.

After a middling set from Dirt Dress, Les Savy Sav took the stage minus their singer, Harrington. The four-piece backing band are the epitome of professionalism, dedicatedly storming though raging anthem after anthem. But unlike their last visit, the group seemed a little lighter in spirit, perhaps breaking character a bit. Where they previously seemed withdrawn, like they were so focused on playing sharp riffs that they couldn’t be bothered to be affected by Harrington’s antics. But tonight, there was laughter on stage, one member even wore Harrington’s wig for a portion of the show. And it was comforting to see the band having fun, as if their lack of worry for their singer’s safety made the chances of him getting hurt, which are always very real, a virtual impossibility.

Harrington’s performance on this night was typically over-the-top. Though the craziness is to be expected from a Les Savy Fav show, the set is never predictable like Monotonix’s crowd-playing or The Hold Steady’s theatrics. From entering with a pope hat to little polka dot pasties on his face to a blonde wig to showing his belly to using stage lighting to illuminate his face like child telling a ghost story in a tent to stage diving to stealing a hat from an audience member to tin-man face paint and on and on and on; there was plenty to watch. One highlight involved the singer scaling the scaffolding-like lighting rig to the rafters, a good 15-20 feet above the floor during a performance of “Yawn, Yawn, Yawn.” More impressive than his ascent, was his graceful acrobatics to get down from the location. (Sidenote: I think he has lost a little weight!)

My lasting memory from the show will be witnessing the reaction of the uninitiated. The photographer next to me was from Filter and was generally unfamiliar with the band. He had expressed a fondness for hardcore and I assured him that this show would be both fun to shoot and enjoyable for fans of that genre. After opening with the one-two punch of “Appetites” and “Dirty Knails,” I looked over at the grinning guy and he gave me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. Les Savy Fav are more than showmen, their music also kicks ass and that is what will keep dragging me to their shows whenever I get the chance.

“What Would Wolves Do?” and “Patty Lee” both made appearances early in the set, “The Equestrian” killed (per usual), but the best numbers were surprising. “Sleepless in Silverlake” was a crowd-pleaser for its obvious hometown references, but the band also pulled out a cover of Dead Kennedy’s “California Uber Alles,” which Harrington later tweeted was the fulfillment of a desire to play it in California for the first time. The singer nails Jello Biafra’s voice perfectly and it was the most exuberant moment of the night. But even more well received was the set-closer “Let’s Get Out Of Here.” The song is the poppiest that the band has written, but Harrington makes it rock live and it manages to strip away any reservations the song might cause on the album. It becomes a complete anthem. So yeah, Les Savy Fav conquered, entertained, burnt lasting impressions and treated it like another day at the office. We all know there aren’t many better live bands on the planet, so really, what else is there to be said?

Oh yeah, Harrington also went berserk with silly string. Homeboy is nuts.


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