Les Savy Fav, Young Legionnaire & Battery Face – The Tunnels 02/03/11
It’s another worknight gig for me. Not great. This generally means I rush home for about 7.15, quickly change my clothes whilst simultaneously trying to shove cold pizza down my neck, then shoot out to the car and drive like a maniac through to Aberdeen, sometimes (as tonight) stopping to pick up a gig buddy on the way. I had sorted my ticket out months ago for this one – almost as big a coup getting LSF to Aberdeen as Mudhoney last autumn – but my mate had to do a ticket pickup on the night so this necessitated a quick meet and pre-gig pint in the Illicit Still before we hit the Tunnels.
Consequently, this meant that we only caught the last song and a half by opening band Battery Face. Not enough to really give an accurate assessment but quite sufficient to decide they’d be worth checking out more fully should they head up this way again. They’re a three piece band, a drummer plus two guitarists, one of whom plays occasional keys as well as singing. His Sonic Youth shirt gives a hint to their possible influence though, as previously stated, I didn’t really see enough to review them properly. I did like the good natured way they dealt with the heckler, probably a mate, who announced “We’re only clapping cos you’ve stopped playing!”. The last song was a slow burner, building in intensity throughout as the keyboard provided crashing bass chords to temper the squalling guitar and jarring, atonal vocal work. Like I say, worth a look next time.
Young Legionnaire were up next, a band that had been recommended to me by several people, not least our own Still Burning. Another three piece, they’re something of an indie super-group of sorts, featuring members of Yourcodenameis:Milo and Bloc Party while those bands are “on hiatus”, whatever that means. Anyway, they make a fine wee post-punk racket. Their stop-start time signatures brought to mind the likes of At The Drive-In or Fugazi and really appealed to me. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the drummer who I thought was particularly good. Inventive patterns, maybe not overly complex but always interesting. Over this, the bass and guitar rocked hard, with occasional strange falsetto vocals from Paul Mullen. There’s the merest hint of their other bands one or twice but, in the main, they’re forging their own sound. The closing Chapter Verse was mammoth enough to send me scuttling off to the merch stall to buy a copy of the Colossus E.P. they had on offer and I’m looking forward to hearing their forthcoming long player sometime in the next month or two.
The Tunnels dancefloor fills up as the members of Les Savy Fav take to the stage, sort their stuff out and start tuning up. After what seems like an age of standing there, absent mindedly strumming their guitars and hitting odd drums, the bass player suggests that if we start boooo-ing loudly, it might spur-on the arrival of eccentric Savy front man, Tim Harrington. Sure enough, after a few seconds, striding through from the direction of the toilets he comes, resplendent in Indian head-dress over long grey wig, aviator shades, face glitter and tie-die womans top, looking like a cross between Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) and Arthur Brown (The Crazy World Of…). Of course, the crowd go mad, but he band down their instruments in pretend petulance and head through the door at the rear of the stage leaving Harrington alone to introduce himself.
Of course they return very quickly and soon they’re off and running with Lips ‘N’ Stuff off their current album Root For Ruin. The infectious art-punk sounds get people bouncing from the outset and it’s not long before Mr Harrington is stripped to the waist and makes the first of many forays offstage and into the crowd where, over the course of the set, he will hug and snog men and women alike, dry hump people’s legs, simulate a blow-job and share his mic with anyone in range, most of whom fill in the song words with gusto. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the set draws heavily from Root For Ruin. 7 of its 11 tracks are aired tonight making up almost half of tonight’s set. It’s a great album and they really do it justice, despite Tim’s mic problems early in the set. He eventually gives up on it and takes the guitarists mic instead meaning they need to share it from time to time as the backing vocals dictate.
At times Harrington’s antics threaten to overshadow the music, particularly as he makes his way to the upper level of the Tunnels and climbs onto the handrail at the head of the stairs, all the while singing away. He clutches one of the scaffold poles suspended from the venue ceiling to steady himself and appears to be contemplating trying to climb up there amongst the cable ladder and ducting. I clock that sound-man Badger is visibly relieved when he decides against it and jumps back down into the crowd. However, just when you’re beginning to focus your attentions on their manic singer, the band sucks you back in with irresistibly infectious rhythms and shimmering surf-guitar lines that remind you that the songs stand proudly on their own regardless of the “extras” that Tim brings to the party. Despite Still Burning’s claims from down the front, I thought the Tunnels sound was great tonight despite occasionally trying circumstances.
All too soon, the main set draws to a close with a splendid run through Let’s Get Out Of Here Now that provokes another outbreak of mad pogoing as everyone sings along in unison. Further crowd pleasers Disco Drive and Rome are despatched for the encores with aplomb, once again dragging out an energetic response from the crowd. Tim ponders if there’s time for just one more and, when Badger nods the affirmative, they launch into the classic Who Rocks The Party? Prompting another audience singalong with the mic being pretty much handed over to the crowd of the majority of the song.
Once it’s over, people start making their way off the dancefloor. Everyone is grinning ear to ear and I hear comments of “Best ever” and other such superlatives being bandied around. For their part, I think the band was genuinely surprised by the response they got tonight because, at one point in the set, one of them announced that “We never knew Aberdeen was so awesome. If we had, we’d have come sooner!”. Hopefully, they’ll make the return visit the next time they’re in the country.
New York Johnny
Lips n Stuff
What Would Wolves Do?
High & Unhinged
Yawn, Yawn, Yawn
Hang Onto Your Genre
Sleepless In Silverlake
The Sweat Descends
Let’s Get Out Of Here
Who Rocks The Party?
Les Savy Fav
Pics by Still Burning.
Les Savy Fav Website
Young Legionnaire Website
Battery Face MySpace