Les Savy Fav: London Dublin Castle

Yank art-rockers kickstart the 'difficult' nu-metal renaissance...

It’s fair to say that Les Savy Fav are not your most conventional of bands – in fact they make fellow demented angst rock Americans …Trail Of Dead seem like S Club 7.

The last time the New York-based art rockers came to our shores, their lead singer Tim Harrington grabbed a member of the audience and wrapped them in cellophane from head to foot. At another gig, he appeared on stage clad in swimming trunks, sporting a mask and snorkel. Kerrrazy guys. Tonight, Harrington has a freshly-dyed black beard and long, straggly hair which frames a gleaming, bald dome. He looks like GG Allin as a wizard, Grizzly Adams as a satanist or Demis Roussos as a serial killer – it’s certainly a captivating look if nothing else.

What’s more captivating tonight, though, is Harrington’s demented, dysfunctional-child-trapped-in-a-30-year-old-fuck-up perfomance. Often overshadowing Les Savy Fav’s deliberately difficult, artsy, DC-influence guitar noodlings, Harrington is a whirling dervish of a frontman who seems to go through about 18 different emotions in each song. He grabs his face, goes bug-eyed, dives into the audience and hangs from the rafters while screaming indecipherable beat poetry over stop-start rhythms and twisted melodia.

But while Les Savy Fav’s individualistic ‘art’ lean is what makes them the band they are today, they’re still more effective tonight when they eschew the ‘difficult’ bits of the songs and plough headfirst into punk rock meltdown. The art’s great and everything, but sometimes you need some filthy guitar licks to complement the crazy bald singer guy who’s rolling around the floor amongst the cigarette stubs, beer and dirty shoes.

More power chords, less G minor 7ths in the key of Z, thanks.

Andy Capper