Friday, April 22
Yuck's self-titled debut album has been on heavy rotation on my iPod --it's so satisfyingly youthful>"/>
Yuck's self-titled debut album has been on heavy rotation on my iPod--it's so satisfyingly youthful and casual, and their melodies are so infectious, that a good half of the songs can haphazardly get stuck into my head on most days. The album is very good; it turns out the band sounds even better live. Last night, opening for Tame Impala at a crowded Neumos (the show sold out in presale), Yuck's tunes--fuzzy and lo-fi on record--burst with an entirely new verve on stage.
Frontman Daniel Blumberg has a terrific voice (and the same haircut as Bob Dylan), and his harmonies with guitarist Max Bloom sounded amazingly lush and pretty sung over their scudding guitar riffs (bassist Mariko Doi also got some singing in on a few songs, but mostly focused on looking cool and detached and playing a couple of sweet, buzzy bass solos). The guitars took precedence in Yuck's set, sounding freewheeling and rhythmic during "The Wall" while blue, green, red, and pink lights flashed incessantly (whoever did lights last night did a fucking fantastic job), bright and springy during the showstopping "Georgia," and particularly psychedelic during a long instrumental jag in the middle of the solemn "Suicide Policeman."
"You make a milkshake of my mind," Blumberg sang on one song, which was a pretty good description of how their set made me feel.
All members of Yuck are in their very early 20s; they play with the confidence and attention of a band with double their experience. Last night was their first time in Seattle; we should hope that the enthusiastic response they got will ensure many more visits in the future.
Last night was the Australian Tame Impala's second visit to Seattle. I saw them play the same venue in December, and the memory of that performance alone would have brought me back to see them again, but in the meantime their debut album, Innerspeaker, has also become a huge favorite of mine for its gorgeous, expansive sound. (In December I described it as the Beatles jamming with the Jimi Hendrix experience.) Last night the band opened with the sky-high "Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?" (around the same time a good number of kids in the audience began lighting up their joints). On a projector behind the stage, green lights flickered in time with the guitars, sometimes looking like pen scribbles, sometimes like a shark's open jaws, sometimes like your brain on drugs. Kevin Parker's voice stretched out eerily across the room; the song sounded cavernous, echoing. "There's a party in my head, and no one is invited," he sang on "Solitude Is Bliss."
Parker is obviously shy--breaks between songs were infrequent; the few times he did talk he mumbled; at the end of the show he specifically stated that there would be no encore, as if begging the audience not to demand any more out of him*. But his reticence to make any form of onstage banter is fitting for Tame Impala's aesthetic and appeal. There is nothing cute or twee about the band; there are no gimmicks or pretensions. They focused solely on making a fantastic record, and now on how to make those songs sound as good as possible in a live setting. And last night's rapt audience proved that, despite electronic devices and flashy outfits, nothing really captivates a roomful of stoned people like a series of killer guitar riffs.
Tame Impala has a way of starting a song and then letting it meander where it will. The fizzy opening licks and steady chorus of "Expectation" gradually developed into a wild, variegated instrumental break. Depending on how wrecked your earbuds were, the guitars could sound almost like a screaming woman. Like Yuck, seeing Tame Impala live is a completely different experience than listening to their record, mainly because they don't stick to the script, instead going places no one in the audience could guess.
During one of their last numbers, Parker sang, "Lucidity, come back to me"--another apt line to end the show, signifying the audience emerging from the thrall the band had held them in for the past hour.
*Thanks to all the jackasses who yelled "Freebird!" for embarrassing America.