15 April 2013
Bunk Bar|Portland, OR
In the tiny square room of Bunk Bar, quickly gaining credibility as one of Portland’s best venues, dim lighting and a packed house of locals set the atmosphere for approaching madness. After the opener, No Bra (aptly titled for a fully topless set), finished off her last song, the packed house spilled forward against the venue’s tiny wooden stage.
Chatter from the crowd highlighted unknown anticipation. “I only know the one song on their website,” echoed a nearby gig-goer. This seemed to be the consensus, as this show was three weeks prior to the release of their debut album Silence Yourself. How could a crowd so fired up, know nearly nothing about the performers and still be so enthralled? In a few moments, Savages, would take the stage and provide the answer to that question. The four-piece female post-punk act from the UK had just made their way in from a 1,000 mile, two day road trip of recovery from their acclaimed performance at Coachella, a month after similar waves at SXSW. By the time they hit the sold out crowd of Bunk Bar, the name was all that was needed.
They entered the stage through cheers, frontwoman, Jenny and bassist, Ayse embracing each other for affectionate, possibly “godspeed” style hug. As the crowd slowly quieted they kicked off their set with the song “No Face.” Within seconds the entire room of bodies began to writhe. Drummer, Fay, seemed so tiny behind her drum kit but her energy superseded her size as her heavy beats kept the choir of dancing bodies moving about.
They plowed through a set, rocking songs like “Shut Up,” “Flying to Berlin” and “Hit Me.” It was nearly impossible to take watch off of guitarist, Gemma’s fluttering fingers as she hit guitar riffs that would make most of the greats smile. At the front, Jenny bounced around in heels at one point belting out the most beautiful but hard-hitting scream as the crowd watched in some fashion of awe. These girls were the perfect blend of badass and beauty, pushing the lines of punk while remaining mysteriously classy.
After completing their set of 11 songs, with kind thank-yous they exited the stage. But the Portland crowd would not see to allow it. Some of the most organized clapping yet to be seen at a live show erupted and despite the almost assured notion that Savages would not return, only grew louder. After minutes of orchestrated beckoning, the ladies shyly walked back onto stage. “Okay, we have never once done a fuckin’ encore” Jenny laughed into the mic. With a nod to the Portland crowd and a humbled spirit, they opened into their first encore as a band. A slower track with exploding drum backed choruses closed out the night. Savages came with the impression that Portland was a “great city for Rock n’ Roll,” and left Portland their own little piece of exactly that.