Thursday, 22 August 2013

Super late review: Savages + Johnny Hostile

There is a big hype around Savages that has been buzzing for months and will not trail off. The album is one of the best records to hit stores in a long time. It's the band of the moment. With big support gigs at Citadel and upcoming Berlin Festival, attending a performance at a relatively intimate space such as Lido appeared to be a treat. But would it live up to the hype, the expectations?

Evidently yes. This started with the best support act I have witnessed in a long time. Mostly, I either know the opening band and I am there for them or I don't know them and they don't impress me. Sure, this is a self-absorbed and horrible thing to say. But I am talking about experiences here. Knowing that Savages was well sold-out and that an early showing was in order, I was sure to be there in time for the opening slot and, boy, was I glad. 

If you like Dirty Beaches, you are going to love Johnny Hostile. Or maybe it's the other way round. The man Hostile seems to have been around for some time, running a label together with Savages lead singer Jehnny Beth, producing Savages' records, and being involved in several, primarily solo, music projects himself. But the Dirty Beaches reference sticks. This is because the set-up and feel of Johnny Hostile's music is very alike that of the Canadian counterpart. Looped dark electronic sounds are complemented by guitar artistry and echoey vocals. And it's oh-so-very-good. I was instantly mesmerised and watched and danced in awe for the entire set. Johnny Hostile - a new favourite. I cannot wait for a record to listen to on foggy autumn days in my bedroom. Hurry up Johnny!

The support act also perfectly complemented the main band. It led the way for Savages' dark wavey post-punk music with a distinct Joy Division feel, which is just the perfect counter-sound to our electronic screen-driven age. There is something raw and emotional to their music and performance that you lack in so many projects these days, be it music or art, literature or theatre.

Of course Lido is not a small sweaty club in the rough part of town and the audience was not made up of disillusioned kids there to feel a sense of community and let off frustration steam. That part of punk is pretty defunct in 2013, at least in central Europe. But everybody danced and celebrated the band - the audience may have lacked desperation but it did show enthusiasm and that is worth something, too. The four women on that stage gave them what they wanted and needed - you were in awe of them and you wanted to be there friend, too.

One of the best shows of 2013? Oh yes! Catch them again (without Johnny Hostile unfortunately) at Berlin Festival next month. But it will most likely not be the same. Better than nothing though, eh?

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