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Saturday, December 1, 2007

“It’s hard to keep on spending/Every night like your life is ending”

posted by on December 1 at 19:15 PM

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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.”


The band closed with Let’s Stay Friends’s coda combo of “Scothgard the Credit Card” and “The Lowest Bitter.” Harrington lost his breath and coughed hard at the end of “Scotchgard,” saying he inhaled too much polyurethane unicorn filler, but Brandon Ivers thought he looked ill. “I hope I don’t barf,” said Harrington. “Barfing is the scariest thing to me.” “Lowest Bitter,” is, by the way, probably my favorite song on the new album right now—it’s cheesy, cheery game-show horn part is stuck in my head on an almost daily basis.

The set was over, but it was obvious the band would be back for an encore (the flashing stage lights were one clue), and soon Harrington was back on stage wearing a crappy blond wig and sunglasses, like some budget Kurt Cobain, and chewing a banana. They played present-tense rocker “Slug in the Shrubs” and medieval kegger anthem “Raging in the Plague Age,” before ending with an inspired medley of “Who Rocks the Party” (a song they dedicated to Lajeunesse and Seattle, where they first played it live) and “Rome.” Lajeunesse joined them on percussion, and the band worked out a seemingly improvised call-and-response refrain: “We were bred for the bed/we were bred for the bed.” The set ended with Harrington back down in the crowd and the whole packed place thoroughly exhausted.

After a brief stop by an especially well-attended and high-energy Comeback, I made it down to The Belmont in time to wander through the rapidly disintegrating art-house and catch Orkestar Zirconium’s street party, which really did feel like an echo of the INB at the WTO. I missed so much, but Christopher Frizzelle has it pretty much wrapped up here. Suffice to say, after the apocalyptic blowout of Les Savy Fav’s set, the Belmont’s self-immolating installation/party was perfect.

Here, dedicated to Pine St, are the lyrics to Les Savy Fav’s “The Year Before the Year 2000”:

If you fear, my dear, the end is near
Please do check your frontal hemisphere
Bitty chicky thinks the sky will fall
You should sense I’ve guessed it just won’t end at all

It’s hard to keep from hoarding
When you wake up Monday morning
In your life with no end in sight
You thought you’d die on Friday night
Everybody, please keep trying
Trying to party like it’s 1999
Even though we’ve got so much time
We need to spend it like it’s 1999

If you want to close the bar tonight
Brace yourself ‘cause there’s no end in sight
You can’t pace yourself and you can’t take it slow
We have to drink it dry before this place is gonna close

It’s hard to keep on spending
Every night like your life is ending
When every night there’s another there
Wearing you down with the moonlight’s stare
Everybody, please keep trying
Trying to party like it’s 1999
Even thought we’ve got so much time
We gotta spend it like it’s 1999

1999
1999’s alright
1999
1999’s alright
1999
1999’s alright
1999
1999’s alright
1999’s alright

RSS icon Comments

1

Well-written review Mr. Grandy! Made me almos' feel like I was there...

Posted by Filip | December 1, 2007 9:31 PM
2

yeah. Really really liked that, Eric. Thanks.

You make the snow fall in all the right places.

"holding a red lamp over himself for light, and at one point serenading a monkey mask"

Kinetic and mellow myths take. The Fitsian fold.

Check the brain out as 'in'.

Posted by trent moorman | December 2, 2007 1:11 PM

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