In his premiere solo outing, Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts was everything you would like him to be — a calm, cool, and collected urban cowboy with a wry wit and a passion for guitar.
The self-proclaimed A. Savage and his band also presented a few surprises to a very full house at DC9 on Nov. 10, alongside impressive songs from his solo debut album Thawing Dawn.
Andrew opened his show alone on the stage for a slow and assured number before the “Thawing Dawn Band” joined him and proceeded largely to play the album in tracklist order. I was initially bemused by the appearance of opener Jack Cooper, who I previously saw in Ultimate Painting, as one of the stage quartet, but then Andrew informed us that everyone on stage had in fact recorded on the album. And as the show progressed, the friendship with Jack and the easy chemistry between all band members became a highlight of the show.
The band performed an earnest lament of the condition of American Indians in “Buffalo Calf Road” before moving into an equally earnest tribute to Andrew’s home in New York with “Eyeballs.”
One of the best songs of the set followed with “Wild, Wild, Wild Horses,” a thoughtful ode to a love who is growing distant. The methodical trot of the song’s rhythms was balanced by powerful, heartfelt lyrics, compelling the audience to listen as if Andrew just showed up unexpectedly at their doors with something very important to say and you have to listen because he’s very intense.
Andrew and his band contrasted this immediately with “What Do I Do,” which provides him with an opening to pound away on the guitar. Andrew focuses on it intently yet peacefully as he kneels before his amp and generates maximum feedback, underscoring the existential panic of the song. It’s certainly one to see live.
In brief but unhurried conversation with the audience, Andrew sought karaoke recommendations for after the concert. (DC suggested he go to Recessions on a Friday night.) He also sought beer contributions given the band had drunk the last of their beers on stage. (Andrew and Jack amusingly commiserated over a few remaining drops of Narragansett — but the audience turned out and sent many beers their way.)
“This is kind of like karaoke,” Andrew said before shocking us with a cover of “Linger” by The Cranberries. It really worked rather well, and the folky ambience of Ireland didn’t seem all that far from the folky ambience of Texas and the birthplace from which Andrew drew inspiration for his solo album.
The final songs of the set and the album underscored the connection to Texas with “Winter in the South” and “Ladies from Houston.” With its Western flavor and rustlers’ pace, “Winter in the South” is another favorite on the new album, recalling sweetly nostalgic desires as the narrator goes away and returns home again — and asks what is home anyway?
Big questions, explored occasionally in small spaces, are what make Andrew Savage a compelling lyricist, and the new songs are rich with allegories, referencing time and distance to make sense of our lives from the armament of his personal experiences. A. Savage is actually a very civilized man indeed.
Here are some pictures of A. Savage and the Thawing Dawn Band performing at DC9 on Nov. 10, 2017.