When last we saw Savoy Motel, the band was opening for the Dandy Warhols on a run of dates this past Fall that included a stop at Cat’s Cradle. The quartet, composed of veterans of the Nashville garage-rock scene, impressed the crowd with their distinct retro-modern sound that mixed elements of glam, funky 70’s FM rock, soul, and even a touch of groove-heavy southern rock. The brief taste of their opening spot left us and many others at the show wanting more. Now Savoy Motel have embarked on a series of headlining and co-headlining shows behind their brilliant self-titled debut. When the band recently stopped at the Pinhook in Durham NC on a Friday night, we jumped at the chance to kick the weekend off in style.
As Savoy Motel took to the stage at the Pinhook it was immediately apparent that the years of playing and touring both separately and as a unit allowed them to hone their craft. Their confidence and comradery showed as they quickly fell into a groove. Guitarist and vocalist Mimi Galbierz was quickly trading fuzzed out licks and smiles with fellow guitar player Dillon Watson, while Jeffrey Novak remained the epitome of rock star cool, never breaking from his stoic façade whether he was laying down the low end foundation on bass, or delivering his glam soaked Marc Bolan-esque vocals. Drummer Jessica McFarland steered the ship from the back of the stage, pounding out the beat, chipping in on vocal harmonies, as well as providing solid lead vocals on “Mindless Blues.” Played live, songs like “Souvenir Shop Rock” and “Sorry People” channeled their funky post-punk 70’s rock influences, while “International Language” and “Hot One” were unraveled from their more psychedelic rock aesthetic and stretched out into extended meandering jams. Savoy Motel delivered a set that condensed their varied influences into a cohesive and glorious rock ‘n roll party that clearly resonated with the Pinhook audience.
The evening kicked off with local journeymen Drag Sounds. The band has expanded and contracted over the years and is currently operating as a trio built around the dual vocal and guitar attack of Mike Wallace and Trevor Reece, with Ezra Noble on drums. The trio roared through a set that featured songs from their recent release, Sudden Comfort. Playing with a crackling energy and an almost reckless abandon, Drag Sounds created a garage-rock sonic landscape that channeled the style, swagger and experimentation of the 1970’s New York City, Lower East Side, CBGB’s bands… Think Television, Talking Heads, and the Velvet Underground. Their set was raw, direct, and ultimately satisfying.