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May 2011 concert: YACHT at Neumos

On  Thursday May 12, I was at Neumos to staff a table for KEXP at a show featuring YACHT, with Light Asylum and Jeffrey Jerusalem opening. As always, my blog, my opinions, not the official views of KEXP. I've been a fan of YACHT since their album See Mystery Lights came out in 2009, and had been disappointed that due to them being scheduled up against LCD Soundsystem, I'd only caught their last song when they performed at the 2010 Sasquatch! Music Festival. So I'd been waiting for the opportunity to see them do a full show and jumped on this as soon as I could.

Jeffrey Jerusalem turned out to be the drummer for YACHT, doing a solo synthpop set. He had some fairly entertaining banter for the handful of people present at the start of his set, alluding to the room's emptiness, and graciously called out Neumos' lighting technician for doing a good job. His music was actually quite good, multi-layered downtempo crossed with disco-funk. It was very catchy, he had a good voice, and also played live percussion on a small set. I thought it was really enjoyable, a good opening, and knowing that he would be drumming for YACHT made me even more excited for their set. I tried to pick up his tour EP after the show but unfortunately it sold out; I'll be looking for more music from him, though.

Light Asylum in contrast to their name played rather dark synthrock—early Ministry-type darkwave, perhaps. Their drumming in particular was right out of the '80s with A Flock of Seagulls handclaps, or New Order's distinctive drum riff from "Blue Monday"—except the drumming was done live by one member of the duo, not by a drum machine. The music was mostly dancey or hard-edged, but they also played a moody slower one. I thought they were pretty good and enjoyed them quite a bit, and I did pick up their tour EP afterwards. 

YACHT are the core duo of Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans (both on vocals, with Bechtolt on synths and drumpads as well), joined by a backing trio on guitar, bass, and drums. They put on a very engaging high-energy set of electronic-influenced dance rock and pop. Evans wasted no time in getting down into audience during "Afterlife", which they played third; she proved to be a very dynamic and dramatic performer. The set mixed in new songs from their forthcoming album Shangri-La, such as the opposed "Dystopia" (slow) and "Utopia" (fast and catchy), with some from See Mystery Lights, such as the aforementioned "Afterlife" and "Summer Song". They also tossed in a disco cover of "Breakin' the Law" of all things. People in the audience were actually dancing, no mean feat to produce at a Seattle rock show—though to be fair some people did dance for the earlier bands too. They closed the main set with a singalong to "Psychic City (Voodoo City)" that had the whole audience bouncing, and played two new songs for the encore. The whole set felt short, maybe 45 minutes (though I didn't check and it may have been a bit longer), and I would've liked a couple more of the older songs. But the new songs sounded all right, particularly "Utopia", so I'm very much looking forward to the new album and hope to see them again soon.

I was able to get a fairly decent set of photos for all three bands, which you can see in the set on Flickr

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