Savages played their debut Australian show on Thursday night at The Hi-Fi, finally bringing their aggressive post-punk sounds to our shores after the release of their excellent album Silence Yourself last year. The crowd were slow to show up but they were there in force by the time local supports A Dead Forest Index completed their set, eager to see the UK four-piece and get a taste of their acclaimed live show.

After a longer than expected wait, A Dead Forest Index took the stage and quietly began their set. The two piece of Adam and Sam Sherry let their dark and minimal sound run free into the crowd, the rolling and primal drums and simplistic guitars combining with Adam’s versatile vocals to create atmospheric sounds that seemed to keep the crowd captivated. With the end of each song however, and the lack of stage presence the two shared, the audience descended into chatter and with the addition of cello to the mix and a more experimental direction the crowd became even more distant. They sounded great throughout but after the 45 minute delay, the attention spans in The Hi-Fi were a lot shorter than usual.

An intro track of distortion, feedback and pulsating synths prefaced Savages entrance to the stage, reawakening the crowd who were definitely getting restless. As it died down, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton took the stage, kicking into the dark and harsh sounds of ‘I’m Here’ before Jehnny Beth took the stage and joined in, her exceptional vocals matching the intensity of the music before overshadowing the rest of the band with her high pitched wail, note perfect on the seemingly impossible ending to the opener. They kept the energy high and had the crowd well and truly in hand by the end of their second track ‘City’s Full’.

All/most of the songs from their debut album appeared on the setlist along with a few others including one brand new song, and a spectacular cover of Melbourne band HTRK’s ‘Ha’ was a rare treat, and Beth described it as an honour to be able to play it. The energy changed a lot, moving in waves from songs like the slower and more emotional ‘Waiting For A Sign’ to the faster paced tracks like ‘She Will’ and ‘Shut Up’.

Their on stage personas reflect their musical parts, Hassan stood up front with her incredible and driving basslines, while Thompson and her guitar moved around – occasionally gracing the spotlight but more often shying towards the shadows. Jehnny Beth of course controlled the stage, the singer pulling shapes from the moment she stood on stage to the end of the set.

With their debut Australian performance, Savages conquered The Hi-Fi, proving without doubt that they are a force to be reckoned with, and showing everyone there what all the hype was about, and declaring themselves the new queens of post-punk.

Lee Snipes


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