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ACL Fest Review: Savages

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Michael Corcoran

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 11, 2013

Let’s pretend it’s the first weekend of ACL, OK? (It’s not hard.)

The first great band I saw at ACL this year is the Savages, a four-piece gang of women from London who played their very first show less than two years ago, yet commanded the vast Honda stage Friday afternoon. Singer Jehnny Bush, with the G.I. Jane haircut and pink pumps, was the visual focus and she could really wail, as on “Hit Me,” when she sounded from another planet. But the heart of this band is the rhythm section of bassist Ayse Hassan and drummer Fay Milton. When your sound harks back to the heavy pound of PiL and the shrieks of Siouxie, you’ve gotta have big bottom and Milton’s right foot drove the band like a diesel truck, while Hassan brought accent to the swirl of Gemma Thompson’s guitar.

Opening with “I Am Here” just a few minutes after Asleep At the Wheel played “Happy Trails” 100 yards away, Savages had a smallish crowd when they started, but played to a couple thousand by the time Beth took a stroll over the barrier to end the set with a defiant song with an unprintable title. Set highlights included “I Need Something New,” with the band’s communication taking the song someplace special, and the rough and stumble majesty of the “No Face” and “Hit Me” coupling.

“Husbands” would’ve sounded new wave if not for Beth’s relentless spit of the title. There was anger, there was beauty, there was closeness and alienation. And all before two in the afternoon.