YAK Review (Club Psychedleia - Lennon's Southampton)
There's a lot of talk at the moment about whether British guitar music has the future that maybe other genres have. But on the bill that took to Lennon's night club on February 28th, were three bands that could singlehandedly reignite anybody's passion for guitar music.
Openers FEVER are no strangers to people of Southampton; the local lads played a blistering short set that showcased just why they're probably the best local band on the circuit. Their short set felt a lot homelier than the rest of the gig, with lots of jokes exchanged between the songs, and whilst their set was outstanding as a whole, the Ramones-y pop of 'Why?' was probably the highlight, and the scornful breakup track 'Shellshock' saw them at their snarling best.
The Black Tambourines stumbled onto the stage next, and with them they brought an indescribable amount of energy. The Falmouth four-piece's sound is almost unique; they combine echoes of The Beach Boys and The Modern Lovers' classic US sound and the garagey fuzz of Wavves and FIDLAR in a way that's more energetic than those all combined. They were dynamic, and whilst they only played 'Crosseyed' from their year-old debut album, the rest of their set was still incredibly tight. The last few songs were the highlights; solid 2 minute indie pop songs dragged out over 5 minutes via frenzied bluesy jam outros were just fantastic, and the amazing chemistry of The Black Tambourines made seeing them well worth the wait.
But as good as The Black Tambourines were, which was bloody great, they were about to be outdone on a grand, grand scale. Even by the way they set up, you know Yak were going to be great. Where the rhythm section, although amazing, was fairly bog-standard in personnel, frontman Oli Burslem set up a huge pedalboard and a portable organ poised in a really awkward angle.
Yak have a lot of hype surrounding them at the minute, because the pulsing sounds of their debut tracks are inescapable, but they went against that at the start of the show - their opening gambit was a long, stomping psyched-out number that saw Burslem mumbling down the mic whilst occasionally slamming his hand down on his organ.
After the opener, Yak got a bit of momentum going; they played another woozy number, but followed it with their debut single, Hungry Heart. In short, live, Hungry Heart was phenomenal, a real explosion of punk sound that just doesn't didn't recede until the very end. It was such an intense live song, and it's furious energy was a bit too much for the speaker system. Various equipment just couldn't take it, with leads, speakers and amps going completely, whilst the drummer beat so much into the drums that it was a surprise it made it to the end of the set.
Maybe it'd have been more apt for them to cover 'Left Speaker Blown' by Liars next, but instead, with the equipment partially back to working order, Yak launched into a fuzzy, scuzzy version of the psych rock classic that is '21st Century Schizoid Man' by King Crimson. Unlike the melodic original, Yak's '21st Century Schizoid Man' was brutal, and it did more to do the equipment in further, because it led to a couple of minutes of delays whilst the band tried to get some life back into their instruments.
But after that, for the last two songs were more powerful than ever, as Yak closed their set in maybe the best way any band could. Penultimately came their second cover version of the night; 'Blindness' (the greatest song) by The Fall saw Yak is a song that revolves around a throbbing bassline and some great guitar sounds, but at the helm of Yak it became even more of a viceral bad acid trip - the bass was thick and dirty, the drums were on edge, and everything else was just perfect.
The ever-humble Oli Burslem thanked the audience sincerely, before Yak propelled themselves into 'Plastic People' - the song that really put them on the map, and a song which is the perfect set closer. It began like a regular, slightly danceable indie rock song, before it escalated manically to be a crazy psychotic, psychedelic rock number. The band's immense noise built up and up to the set's climax to conclude it, with the whole band really, really going for it, long hair swishing all over the place. Live, 'Plastic People' was much more mesmerising than it's studio counterpart, and as the band walked off the stage to the layers of feedback the half-dead instruments were giving off, you couldn't help but feel that Yak are really something special. Despite being on a line-up with incredible support, they shone through brightly to prove that despite being followed by a large amount of hype, London based band Yak are one to watch over the coming year