A. Savage @ The Earl, Atlanta, US, November 4, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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A. Savage

A. Savage, Sluice

A. Savage @ The Earl, Atlanta, US, November 4, 2023,

Nov 16, 2023 Photography by Christa Joyner Moody Web Exclusive
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The Parquet Courts co-leader brought a crack backing band to Atlanta which breathed an extra gust of life into his latest album’s songs.

Dylan Hadley & Josh Puklavetz (A. Savage)
Dylan Hadley & Josh Puklavetz (A. Savage)

It should come as no surprise that after nearly twenty years in the business, that the Parquet Courts founder and co-leader, Andrew Savage aka A. Savage, would do anything other than support themselves with a world class backing band for his recent run of dates. Touring behind his second solo album, Several Songs About Fire (Rough Trade), the release was brought fully to life by Savage and his crew. I was lucky enough to have a few minutes to talk to Modern Nature’s Jack Cooper (who is playing guitar and singing harmonies on the tour) before the show. Cooper shared that he didn’t quite understand why some fans viewed the album as one that was “stripped down” and from the opening notes of Savage’s set you understood exactly what he meant.

A. Savage
A. Savage

But first up was Durham, North Carolina’s Sluice. Here performing as a one man act in support of this year’s Radial Gate (Ruination), Justin Morris played a gracious and understated set that benefitted from an array of low-key effects and pedals. Interspersed with snippets of radio broadcasts and field recordings, songs like the opening “Acts 9:3” and later “New Leicester” took on a naturalistic hue. Morris’s songs play out like stream of consciousness narratives from an earlier era and in adhering to those arcs most of the songs are devoid of choruses or standard structures. Morris closed with a cover of Springsteen’s “Highway Patrolman” to cement his admiration for a story well told.

Sluice
Sluice

Savage opened up his set with a non-album track, “Black Holes,” as he and his band sprung to life. The group, consisting of Savage (guitar/vocals), Cooper (guitar), Dylan Hadley (drums), Jeff Tobias (keys, horns), and Josh Puklavetz (bass), were situated on the stage in an unusual inverse horseshoe configuration. Savage and Hadley fronted on opposite ends of the stage with the others filling in behind. Tobias played at rear center, adorned with cowboy hat and sheriff’s badge. Savage later jokingly introduced him as the sheriff of Ridgewood, Queens.

Jack Cooper (A. Savage)
Jack Cooper (A. Savage)

Hadley’s drum work and Cooper’s creative “song by song” selection of riffs jumped to the forefront from the outset (both Hadley and Cooper play on Several Songs About Fire as well). Whether running through punkier paced songs like “Elvis in the Army” and “David’s Dead” or more introspective fare like “Indian Style,” Savage and his band were there to entertain. He quipped early on that the Saturday night Atlanta crowd was the first of the tour that didn’t need to be beckoned forward to the stage. And there was no doubt the crowd on hand was rapt for the briskly paced 90-minute set.

Dylan Hadley (A. Savage)
Dylan Hadley (A. Savage)

Tobias’ ripping sax brought life to “My My My Dear” and Cooper proved capable of an impressive country lick on the Stones-y inspired cover of Lavender Country’s “I Can’t Shake The Stranger Out of You.” Hadley and Savage gamely traded verses on another deep cover of Kevin Ayers’ playful “Oyster and the Flying Fish.” But the most fun to be had over the course of the evening was watching the creativity flow in the approach to each song. Thawing Dawn’s “Winter in the South” became a rollicking Sergio Leone inspired romp of a spaghetti western soundtrack, while the slinky sax added to “Thanksgiving Prayer” transformed the quintet into a retro Vegas lounge act for a moment.

Josh Puklavetz & Jeff Tobias (A. Savage)
Josh Puklavetz & Jeff Tobias (A. Savage)

My personal favorite (both on the album and for the night) was the slow to simmer “My New Green Coat” with Puklavetz pushing the song forward to repeated towering peaks. The Earl’s cozy confines and perfectly mixed sound made for an ideal setting in which to focus on Savage’s latest works. Having seen Parquet Courts many a time, it was a treat to catch Savage run through a variety of approaches with such deft and occasionally incendiary backing from his touring band. Hardly a side gig, Savage’s solo work and performance is right on par with his best work in his better known role. That he serves up his songs with plenty of twists and turns makes for one heck of a compelling live show.

Dylan Hadley & Josh Puklavetz (A. Savage)
Dylan Hadley & Josh Puklavetz (A. Savage)




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