New York

Les Savy Fav Shocked, Appalled at Sopranos Premiere


Les Savy Fav became a band at RISD, and they’ve been pulling art-school stunts for about ten years now, but this might be their greatest one: announcing a breakup or hiatus or something and then continuing touring like it’s nothing. Tim Harrington yowled “One night only!” more times than I could count on Friday night, but was he fooling anyone? People packed into the band’s Bowery show last year because they thought it’d be their last chance ever. Who’s going to fall for that now? They just toured Australia. They’re writing new songs. It’s not over.

Here’s something else: Harrington started out in a three-piece suit and aviator sunglasses and a mortarboard, smoking a pipe and talking about “welcome to the seminar.” He stripped down to pink briefs before changing into pajamas and then a fucking disgusting skin-tight paper-thin jumpsuit with internal organs drawn on the outside. He did ocean-wave stomach-rolls. He flopped around like a fish trying to do the Jackie Chan kick-up. He dragged a table out onstage and struck a series of mock-seductive tiger-poses. He marched around waving the enormous American and Polish flags that sit on the sides of the Warsaw stage. If you’re doing all this and it still feels like an off-night, maybe it’s time to start taking all that hiatus stuff a little more seriously. But I’ve seen Harrington climb lamp-posts, crawl over balconies, convince thousands to sit on the ground, and wring sweat out over people’s faces; it takes a lot to top that stuff. If you’ve spent a decade constantly topping yourself, you’re eventually going to hit a brick wall. It’s just what happens.

Or maybe not. LSF’s two opening bands were decent enough: the oddly satisfying but stock jerky dancepunk of Foreign Islands (Pantherseque, if that’s not too fucking much) and the the brittle, simplistic, shouty electro of the !!! side project Free Blood. But both looked truly out of place in a cavernous venue like Warsaw; they’re basement bands, and it’ll be a while before they become anything else. Even on an off-night, Harrington fills that charisma vacuum right up. His furry-blubbery anti-frontman routine still every bit as outrageously repulsive as it ever was, but maybe it shouldn’t be the focal point anymore. LSF may have been the great unsung heroes of the 01-02 Brooklyn dancepunk wave, and they haven’t dropped a proper album in about five years, but their frazzled, serpentine screech-thump is still fresh. And maybe that’s the problem; Harrington’s schtick has aged, but the music hasn’t, and he still won’t get out of the way. A Les Savy Fav show is still a fun night out, so maybe I should stop bitching; plenty of bands can’t even get close to that. But I’m used to going home from this band’s show sweaty and dazed and nauseous and dizzy. Until the other guys in the band become as much a part of the show has Harrington, I don’t see that happening again anytime soon.

Stream: “The Sweat Descends”
Stream: “Tragic Monsters”

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