the figgs: live at 25

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Figgs returned to their hometown for a rousing three hours of original songs and more (photo by Joseph Deuel).

The Figgs

Putnam Den, Saratoga Springs NY
August 18, 2012

one of these perfect nights something that really matters to say is going to tumble down from the high peaks region or thereabouts and the collective realization is gonna split the ground like a scene from a japanese monster flick and something the likes of which we’ve never seen is going to rise from the crevice and will fill all the vacant husks in us and that’s the best analogy i can find for the kind of energy … and yes it is about energy pete donnelly … the figgs transmitted from the stage at putnam den on a comfortably balmy Saturday night in observation of the band’s 25 years beginning right there in saratoga springs …and what one could say is … well someone has given me a beer and a little sample of something that tastes perfume-y and the band itself is like some sort of circuit-bent gyroscope that actually increases in speed with time … the reverse of entropy … and this is the sort of bass-guitar-and drums sound that grew out of punk music in a very blue-collar sort of way no i don’t mean to talk about social classes but rather about a lack of posturing or guile or if not guile then at least guise but rather seeming straight ahead although the songs themselves lack no irony … consider “wasted pretty” with its delayed barb (think “is she really going out with him?” directed at the object of the singer’s simmering ire) … it’s not half-bad as an example for the tunes tend to be about a state of fucked-uped-ness that brings the punk rock that anticipated it down to a more personal level somehow (hey the set list is here go check it out if you wanna) … if on the other hand you’ve reached some sort of realization that nothing – no thing – is truly personal in this life then you’re going to find something else in this music and some of that will be in the furious and unrelenting attack of pete hayes’ drums the mad talent of principal lead singer/songwriter lead guitarist mike gent donnelly’s fluidity and vigor on the electric bass guitar and the wonderful tonality of original band member guy lyons’s guitar on the band’s older material … whereas with a lot of bands you talk about changes of direction drastic alterations of the musical environment, the figgs one could say remain pretty much as they’ve always been … high energy a bit angry perhaps but only in a very constructive way … they don’t glorify the “scene” they find themselves in they don’t start with a riff and try to build a song that’s “pretty” around it … oh contraire for while there’s certainly craft many of their songs are like well they’re like little shouts or chants actually … songs that can be clapped and sung along with quite easily in the pub … fabulously unpretentious with smart thick tones that don’t quite approach “grunge” but are anything but thin … and there’s no effort thank you very much to stretch out the tunes into “jams” (they played more than 40 songs) … as for energy there is Donnelly not merely playing the bass as an audio instrument but as a visual one as well lifting it toward the sky sweeping the stage area because for all his soft-spokenness he is at heart a rock’n roll animal a beast among beasties something you might find if you got under the skin of say chris squires in that capacity to be intricate and complicated without losing the sense of … well drive and instinct … and i say this is a band that hasn’t shown us they’ve gone through immense changes or experimenting (that isn’t really possible and you know it) in 25 years but here they are delivering in a tireless fashion the gyroscope picking up speed and intensity and even bringing a friend up on stage to sing “life during wartime” doesn’t through a wrench into the works but only sets up more of what the figgs do best which is to play loud fast driving music that is articulate without being calculated and accessible without being pedestrian … only punctuated by the occasional and admirably restrained comic efforts of hayes who if he weren’t such a good drummer might … in another dimension … be a movie or club comic … and if anything could make the event (and they’re all events you know made up of smaller events) could make the night a more fitting silver anniversary it is the venue itself … if it had actually been 25 years ago the show might’ve been at king’s tavern which at the time was basically the only joint (i don’t want to slight anybody or talk about tiny defunct our place pub) in town hosting new wave/postpunk or for that matter new youth-oriented bands in general … but that venue is outside of the central downtown area which would mean that fewer new fans would discover the figgs … and that is significant for it appeared that in this audience there were quite a few young people who might not have known the band for so long … this is a key moment or an apogee in the band’s career rather than a look back … an anniversary show but also another working night for the band (which by the way is also graham parker’s backup band) which is damn important because bands have to grow audiences … if you wanted to stop and study the way the band’s lyricism has grown over the years etc you probably could but not me please too many words have fallen uphill here in other words in the wrong direction and that’s not going to change the world at all is it?

the figgs website is here

putnam den’s website is here


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