24 March 2009

Heloise and the Savoir Faire (Live)

20 March 2009, Friday night in New York City’s Highline Ballroom, I coped with butterflies in the stomach waiting to see Heloise and the Savoir Faire. Though I heard grumblings of ticket sales being low, the space filled out nicely by the time the music started, allaying any fears that this would not be a successful show. But before hearing the live versions of songs from “Trash, Rats, and Microphones,” the Brooklyn-based band Deep Red took the stage.

An unsigned band, Deep Red combines sultry vocals with synthpop elements reminiscent of Eurythmics' debut album, “In the Garden.” Of course, there is more of a New York City, sinister twist sound to the music. Not rehash at all, they definitely have garnered my curiosity to hear more. (Check them out at their MySpace home.)

Deep Red

Minutes after their set was completed, Heloise and the Savoir Faire came on stage. I have heard a lot of labels for this band, from disco-punk to disco revival to glam, but it may be better to just discard those labels and deal with the band on their own terms. Drawing influences from various genres, their debut album, “Trash, Rats, and Microphones,” swirls you around infectious beats, lyrical narratives, and ingenious craftsmanship. The music, and live performances, is best described as an orgy with your clothes on; the music (and Heloise) exudes sensuality. The in your face, theatric performance keeps the time passing until it is all forgotten.

Luke Hughett is one of the best live drummers in New York City; add James Belzia on guitar and the amazing bass playing of Jason Diamond, this is a band that never skipped a beat, played with complete conviction, and are always consistent as all hell. In the forefront was Heloise with her two dancers, always a smile on her face, often holding back laughter from their antics, they barreled through nine songs, a costume change, and an improv about finding dick in the park. Just like the album, there is nothing sacred and all things are viable for fun.

The crowd was less than bouncing around the place, which they should have been, but this did not deter the spot on performance from the band. The highlight of the set was “Members Only.” Always a fun song, full of energy, the song is the perfect exemplar of wit and pop culture meets music. Also performed was “Trash, Rats, and Microphones” (not included on the album). The encore, “Memorial Day,” which I have described as sex, booze, references to 80’s song titles, partying, a Muslim roommate, a Chevy Celebrity (!), and a flirtatious lesbian, this song is about pure energy and fun. It is the perfect closer to any show. From beginning to end, through the high theatrics and costume changes, what comes through about this band is that it is about the music. Sure, it is sensual, orgasmic even, but that is only possible because of superior song writing and spot on performances. My advice, if you haven’t seen Heloise and the Savoir Faire live yet, hunt down the next show and go. (Oh yeah, and get on iTunes and by “Trash, Rats, and Microphones.”)

Heloise and the Savoir Faire

Set List:
1. Downtown
2. Pick ‘n’ Choose
3. Members Only
4. Illusions
5. Datsun 280z
6. Trash, Rats, and Microphones
7. Canadian Chang
8. On Fuego
9. Po’T

10. Memorial Day (Encore)

Here are two brief clips from the show.

"Members Only" (Live 20 March 2009)

"Memorial Day" (Live 20 March 2009)

Keep up with Heloise and the Savior Faire at their homepage and/or MySpace.