Les Savy Fav’s set started off like more of a standup comedy routine than post-punk concert. Lead singer Tim Harrington came out to check his microphone and wound up staying on stage to just chat with the audience. At first he told us how his dad suggested a joke to open the set with: “down here you guys have longhorns (makes UT hand sign), but up in New York we have a unicorn (flicks off audience).” Then he poked fun at the industry-nature of SXSW by rattling off a list of fake places his band were going to play later in the week and imploring us to come see them again because they felt certain they were “really about to break.” After a few more minutes of poking fun at everything from himself to the long list of sponsors on the SXSW banner (“We’re really thrilled to have Chevy involved in this…”), the rest of the band joined Tim for the best show I’ve seen in what seems like far too long.
I don’t remember the first song they played, but I’ll likely keep a strong mental image of the second for a long time. Guitarist Seth Jabour started into the familiar opening riff of “The Equestrian” and just as it was time for Tim to start singing, he took off sprinting to the front of the stage and jumped into the crowd. Sure, I couldn’t make out any of his vocals for the majority of the show, but it’s energy like that means you don’t really have to be able to in order to have a great time.
A short way into the set, Tim made a discovery that had every photographer groaning: the lights at the Galaxy Room could be very easily unplugged. So with bandmates looking on, Tim unplugged the lights and left us in near total darkness. Now, the photographer in me was a little bummed that I was going to be missing out on some great shots, but the music fan in me was thrilled that things were starting to get a little crazy.
Once the lights were out, a few fans threw glow sticks on stage, which Tim promptly picked up, tore open with his mouth and rubbed all over himself. It flew in the face of all the glow stick handling advice your mother ever gave you, but it made for a memorable experience. It’s not every day you see a band that glows in the dark.
To close, Les Savy Fav finally answered the prayers of a few fans who had been shouting out a request the whole night by playing “the Sweat Descends” to fill out the darkness. It’s one of my favorite songs, so seeing it in such an intimate venue under such weird conditions made it a memorable moment for sure.
More photos after the break.