Les Savy Fav

First things first: Even if you've never heard of Les Savy Fav, you must go see them live. If you've heard the band's recordings and been underwhelmed, you must go see them live. If you've experienced their show already, then I know you'll say it along with me: Everyone must go see them live.

Les Savy Fav is a band built for the stage. Their joyfully arty, hardcore/new wave assault is a herky-jerky strain of that New York rock epidemic we're still hearing about. But while the requisite Gang of Four references apply, Les Savy Fav is a lot closer to a circus sideshow than to, say, the Strokes. That's the work of front man Tim Harrington, whose unruly beard alone has more personality than your average indie rocker. Harrington will often don a mismatched sweatsuit and spend much of the set hanging from the rafters (or a disco ball), benignly tormenting shoe-gazers, or--as at one of the band's early in-store performances--crawling through the crowd in a sea-captain outfit and a rubber Napoleon mask, barking. Chances are Harrington sees nothing out of the ordinary in this, as the band was born in the art-school wilds of Providence, Rhode Island, and weaned at Brooklyn warehouse parties, both locales being performance-art happenings unto themselves.

There is serious rock music happening here, too. Seth Jabour, whose improv-punk guitar work might fit in with Fugazi, holds up Les Savy Fav's sky while Harrington performs his eye-popping flailings. Harrison Haynes and Syd Butler bring the rhythm section, weaving perfect polyphony with the stops and starts of Harrington's sporadic keyboards--when he's on the ground, of course. Alas, the band's latest, Go Forth (produced by Phil Ek), renders their well-timed musical spaces gaping holes, their prodigiously robotic guitar parts bleepy. In other words, they become nearly the opposite of their live show. But when the latter is so raucous, theatrical and damn near unforgettable--well, did we mention you've got to see them live?


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