Last Night “It’s hard to keep on spending/Every night like your life is ending”
posted by December 1 at 7:15 PMon
Les Savy Fav @ Neumo’s
Last night felt like the end of the world.
Les Savy Fav may have turned a lyrical corner on Let’s Stay Friends, coming around from their old morbid, party-hard fatalism to embrace a more optimistic, sustainable worldview, but their live show still feels like the apocalypse. Lead singer Tim Harrington took the stage wearing stretched stripes, a long cape, and a stuffed unicorn over his head. The band launched into the raucous whips-and-reins sex jam “The Equestrian,” and Harrington ripped the plush horse off his head, tossing its stuffing out like fat snowflakes over the crowd. The band supports Harrington’s antics with tight, confident playing, and last night, the four Les Savy Fav core players were joined by an additional guitarist and occasional extra drummers, including Neumo’s’ own Jason Lajuenesse. Harrington’s theatrics get in the way of his vocals a lot less than you might expect, although his voice, a kind of ragged scream-sing, isn’t exactly meant to be pitch-perfect. Mostly, the singing only suffers when he’s intentionally mumbling his lines, skipping words, passing the mic to the crowd. And the band casually jams out extended instrumental parts to accommodate the occasional wander through the crowd or climb up the balcony.
The band followed “The Equestrian” with the falsetto funk of “Patty Lee,” for which Harrington covered his face with striped spandex to match his shirt, and the old L-E-S-S-A-V-Y-F-A-V singalong “Scouts Honor” from debut album 3/5. Next up was death disco anthem “The Sweat Descends,” which Harrington sang almost entirely from within the audience, making his way all the way back to the sound booth, holding a red lamp over himself for light, and at one point serenading a monkey mask he’d placed on the back of an audience member’s head. When he finally jumped back onstage for a triumphant chorus, the crowd erupted into the most kinetic mosh pit I’ve seen in years. The band cooled the crowd down with the relatively mellow myth take “What Would Wolves Do?,” Harrington encouraging the crowd to join along in the howling chorus.
By this time, Harrington was down to a t-shirt, but as he barked through the grim, bouncing “Yawn, Yawn, Yawn,” the crowd tug and tore at his shirt, while Harrington sang, “Yawn, Yawn, Yawn/we’re all long gone/If we get lucky we’ll be dead by dawn/So let’s get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get it on!” Harrington took off his shirt to great cheers, and Jonathan Zwickel observed how great it was that a guy like Harrington could be such a fucking rock star. Harrington’s not a classically foxy man—he’s huge, bald, beared, fat, and not a little crazy looking; the overall impression is “dude at the bus stop” not “rock star”—but he’s totally bad-ass , so it works. Sweaty and wild-eyed, he declared of Neumo’s, “This is a safe place” like he was reassuring himself through a bad trip, repeated, “This is a special night” over and over, and finally launched into Inches highlight (and early hint at the band’s developing optimism) “We’ll Make a Lover of You,” introducing it as “a song about the future.” The theme continued with Let’s Stay Friends’s upbeat manifesto “The Year Before the Year 2000,” which Harrington dedicated to Prince, saying “The end is far.” For this one, Harrington crawled off the side of the stage onto the crowd, who hoisted him up by his ankles to serenade the balcony. He returned to the stage looking, ironically or appropriately, exhausted; it is hard to “party like it’s 1999.”