Considering how almost all of the remaining New York City concert venues allowed themselves to be weaponized for plandemic divide-and-conquer schemes and much worse, there’s hardly reason to single any one of them out for special treatment considering that they wouldn’t do that for us during the time when the New York Governor’s office was imposing apartheid restrictions.
“But we had to comply! Otherwise we would have gone out of business!”
No. When someone tries to take your rights away, you stand up and fight. If none of us had complied, none of this ever would have happened.
Be that what it may, right now this group of cowards still run the majority of the spaces for live music in this city. One such is Union Pool, which for years had an on-and-off series of free shows during the summertime, often in the back courtyard by the taco truck. The series is back this summer, although, maybe predictably, there’s been a considerable dip in the quality of the bands. One of the highlights of this month’s shows is on June 12 at around 3 PM with Savak, who play a shapeshifting blend of 90s jangle, 80s postpunk and more indie-flavored sounds. The buzzy 3rd-gen post-Velvets/no wave-ish Messthetics follow at around 4:30.
On one hand, Savak’s vibe is quaintly retro. On the other, it’s very much in the here and now. Their latest album Human Error/Human Delight is streaming at Bandcamp. The band have two main songwriters and guitarists: Sohrab Habibion, whose frequent sense of menace reflects his time fronting Obits, and Michael Jaworski, whose songs tend to be on the brighter side. Either way, Wire is the pervasive influence here. Matt Schulz plays drums; on the record, there’s a small army of guest bassists when Jaworski isn’t playing it.
The great Josh Sinton adds a tasty layer of baritone sax on the opening track, No Blues No Jazz, a catchy, hard-hitting, cynical post Lou Reed number as Marc Ribot might have done it. Track two, Empathy is a wistful blast of downstroke 80s REM clang, followed by My Book on Siblings and its motorik, declamatory take on late 70s Wire.
The group keep the pink flag flying through the next track, Cold Ocean. Nick Sewell’s catchy bass loop anchors the driftingly insistent psychedelia of Set Apart. The group the Obits sound, if a little more quietly, in Oddsmaker, Jaworski’s snapping, strolling bassline underneath the guitars’ distantly lingering menace. It’s the best song on the album.
Trashing the Ghost is an opaquely indie take on the 13th Floor Elevators, then Habibion’s anxious Wire-y chromatics take over in Recanted (Free the Singer). The unease is in the lyrics in the punchy, anthemic Baltimore Moon.
The group work a tersely layered one-chord vamp over a percolating bassline in Adolescence Obsolete, then they hit a gorgeously ringing Fender Twin attack in Dealers, the catchiest track on the record. They close with Dumbinance, which starts out with a surfy nocturnal atmosphere and grows more dense and postpunk.
This blog has never caught Savak live. The last time anyone here saw Habibion onstage, he was flinging out reverbtoned shards during a lusciously evil set with Obits at this very same venue, way back in 2014. Good to see him as vital as ever in this project.