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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, June 6

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Review Sun Jun 26 2011

Review: Les Savy Fav @ Subterranean, 6/25 & Green Music Fest, 6/26

Far too many people claim that far too many bands must be seen live to be fully appreciated. Now, there are a lot of bands who use their live performances to add respectably to their recorded catalogs and are usually very good on stage. However, few are actually entertaining enough to be must-sees night after night. But Les Savy Fav is one of those. And we've been lucky in Chicago to see them often over the years. Neither Saturday at Subterranean nor Sunday at Green Music Fest were exceptions.

For as much as people talk about Tim Harrington's antics as the main draw, the band behind him is totally underrated. Like Jon Spencer, Drive-By Truckers and anything with John Reis, Les Savy Fav figures out how to turn studio weaknesses into live strengths. Post-punk hooks that don't stand out on a record come across monstrous. Choruses that should be anthemic find life. Now, don't get me wrong, it's unlikely many people go to Les Savy Fav shows to hear some riff pop out, but it's not uncommon to see a lot of heads faced toward the stage no matter where Tim Harrington ends up. But he'll always be the star.

On Saturday evening, Harrington walked out in a wig, a woman's red shirt, striped shorts and he'd taken some liberties with eye black. He doled out Ritz crackers like holy wafers (and then spit a chewed one into a fan's mouth), adjusted the lighting rig, hung upside down on the spiral staircase, drank a beer poured to him from the balcony (though it mostly ended up on his chest), used every available inch of microphone cord in a 10-block radius, walked to street level, made his way to the soundboard a few times, lost clothing at regular intervals and on and on. After a lengthy delay on Sunday, he emerged from backstage looking pretty dirty (though we've seen him dirtier) in a knitted poncho, a Paisley-patterned shirt and normal pants. His first order of business was pulling two ropes from the mobile stage corners, tying them together and using them to balance on the barrier railing and leaning over the crowd. The ropes held, but not for long. Soon enough, he was in the crowd, encouraging Moshing 101, dogsitting, ending a song on top of a tent, crowdsurfing in a chair (though no competition to crowdsurfing in a garbage can), smearing eye black (again) all over his body, finding his way to a 2nd-floor apartment and Lord knows what else on street level that could only be seen by immediate bystanders.

Through it all, the band plowed through their set and treated Tim as if he were just a large child who gets crazy sometimes but will always work his way out of trouble. They know what they're in for and look like nothing he'd do would surprise them. The same probably goes for most people who've seen them a few times. Yet they still command attention like few bands and always leave people shaking their heads and saying, "I've never seen that at a show before." Of course they didn't. They're a must-see for a reason.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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