29th January | Louisiana
Photos: Rowan Allen
“When the summer draws the bugs in the house/ and an acquaintance takes the form of a spouse,/ I need you wildly, as the bluejay needs a tune/ it can sing into the afternoon.”
For those familiar with the work of Andrew Savage, musician and songwriter most famously with New Yorkers, Parquet Courts, this particular phrase may seem surprisingly tender and intimate compared to the raw, unsettling, subtle, social commentary of the four-piece. This is one particular vantage point of Thawing Dawn, Savage’s first solo album away from the group. Yet for those particularly appreciative of his work, this record is a welcome insight into a more mature emotional openness that was first investigated on the dusky industrialism of their last record, Human Performance.
As proven this evening at a familiarly-packed Louisiana, Thawing Dawn is not a side-step but a natural progression for Andrew Savage. Forming a super-group to embrace the full nature of the record, Savage is joined by Jack Cooper of Ultimate Painting, alongside Jarvis Taveniere and Aaron Neveu of Woods, who not only join him for the full tour but also played on the record. With this in mind, the show captures the expressiveness of the four musicians as if they were putting what they were playing to tape for the first time, summoning the spirit of such a communicative vibe and harnessing the mellow nature of the record into an absorbing whole.
Before Savage’s set, Jack Cooper opens the proceedings, joined by the three other musicians of the evening who would later play. It’s a unique situation that really pays dividends, the collaborative union the four have together shining bright throughout, as they slink and sway through Sandgrown, Cooper’s own first solo record.
Cooper has always been an unpretentious and observant performer, coaxing out wonderful rhythms and breathing a rich texture into them, while retaining their minimalistic notation. Taveniere, wearing one of Cooper’s excellent ‘It’s Better In Blackpool‘ t-shirts, engages with said richness, alongside band mate Neveu, who delivers an essential percussive backdrop for Cooper’s melancholic wonderings. It’s all quite effortless, a balance that allows you to be lost in the instrumentation that simmers within the title track and the more poignant nostalgia that washes through the songs.
After a short break, the group return with Savage at the fore. It’s an auspicious set, one that finds great balance in the country tinges of Thawing Dawn and the bristle of Parquet’s live sets, exhibiting Savage’s broad capabilities and suggestive songwriting. With Cooper adding breezy synth to ‘Buffalo Calf Road’, its journey is evocative and bold, Savage’s enunciation deep-toned and delightfully mellow.
They retain this energy throughout the set, even through the heightened pace and more nuanced melody of ‘Eyeballs’ and ‘Winter In The South’, the front three all joining together on vocals for some particularly warming harmonies. From this, the duality between Savage and Cooper truly becomes apparent, two songwriters that compliment each other’s music so well that when performing together, everything seems uncomplicated.
The particular distinction of their performance lies in its improvisation and progression. Throughout the set, Savage crafts unmitigated noise from the pickups of his guitar, especially the delicate ambience that murmurs on ‘Wild, Wild, Wild Horses’. His vocals do not falter through its five minutes, as he fashions the improvisational noise that grows in volume It’s arresting, whilst ensuring the intricacies shine brightest.
This couldn’t be more evident than when they drive through the title track, striking faultlessly as they traverse through its varying time signatures and forms, presenting perhaps Savage’s most individual and remarkable track in its most impressive stature. It’s a wonderful way to close the evening, embodying the perception of such a rewarding songwriter.