How Cash Savage and the Last Drinks got so good

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How Cash Savage and the Last Drinks got so good

Photo by Andrew Bibby
Photo by Andrew Bibby
Photo by Andrew Bibby
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Words by Augustus Welby
Photos by Andrew Bibby

Cash Savage is an incredible frontwoman.

In 2018, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks released their finest album to date, Good Citizens. They’ve since played shows in all Australian metropolitan hubs as well as Victorian outposts like Torquay, Charlton and Meeniyan and made it up as far as Darwin.

They recently toured Western and Central Europe to not insignificant success. Savage, the band’s indomitable frontwoman, was painted by Hayley Arjona for the 2019 Archibald Prize. And The Guardian named Good Citizens one of the top ten Australian albums of 2018.

And yet, it doesn’t feel like the band have been embraced to the extent warranted by an album of Good Citizens’ calibre. That didn’t mean the Corner Hotel wasn’t rammed full of excitable music fans who greeted almost every song with the sort of rapture you’d expect for a band hitting its peak.

If you’re a Cash Savage fan then the appreciation for her songs and personality goes way deep. The problem is many of these songs – like the barrelling ‘Human, I Am’ and the exhausted ‘Better Than That’ – should be appearing in lists recounting the decade’s musical highlights.

In a crowded field of Melbourne bands channelling and repurposing the tropes of loud and sweaty rock’n’roll music – the sort of music that’s intended to be played in rooms just like this one – Savage and the Last Drinks differentiate themselves by making music that wastes not a wink of its time with pageantry.

They’re also a fucking spectacular live phenomenon. Savage is a brutal frontwoman in the sense that she does not attempt to curry favour with the audience so much as she commands that everyone take heed. She holds herself in a manner akin to a pro athlete. While singing, she gives it absolutely everything. When the ball’s not in her hands, she stays connected to everyone in the band and audience by maintaining constant movement and wearing a gaze of unshakeable resolve.

There are seven members on stage in total and they work together like a gang would. No one tries to outshine the others; Savage is the leader and there’s no two ways about it. The remaining members – two guitarists, a bassist, violinist, keyboard player and drummer – are all essential to creating one of the most spirited sounds in modern rock music.

What defines the band’s performances, Savage’s singing and this gig as a whole is the sense of pure emotional investment. Such authentic commitment is a rare thing to see and we can only hope the band’s impact continues to widen.