A few years back i encountered the band Yuck. They have a new album out and are on tour, and i
tracked them down at a weird club in Atlanta.
When we got there just after 9:30pm the first band was on the stage. They are called Big Thief, and
they are young, precious, and annoying. The vocalist and band leader was a thin girl in a toque and
scrunched up shoulders, singing in a high-pitched mumble.
She was tolerable, i guess, but the worst moment of their set was an interminable 3 hours (or 3
minutes, it was hard to tell time through the suffering) wherein the male guitarist sang acapella in a
thick (perhaps exaggerated) Southern Accent.
The bassist stares, concerned, as the gutiarist gets ready to "sing".
He should not sing. At all. And if, for some reason he has
to sing (say, Galactus will eat the earth unless he is serenaded with a song) then this person should sing
only with adequate accompaniment, and preferably not as the lead vocal position.
Big Thief also had a hint of jam bandishness to them… My girlfriend, who is a Deadhead, even
mentioned the dreaded P word. Yes, they sounded ever so slightly at times of … Phish.
On the plus side, the bassist had a cool Paul McCartney style bass.
Ugh. Yeah, it was bad. But they went on early so we only saw half of the set.
In between band moments i checked out Aisle 5. I had been here once before, a few years back. It
looks like they have totally redone it. Blue painters tape was still on the walls in a few places. The stage
and sound system seemed new and up to date. And, much to my delight, they had a nice, bright light
system, and they used it. No band played in the dark today. And the sound was really crisp and clear.
The second band was called Sunflower Bean. They were a three piece with a short-haired girl in
sparkly dress on vocals and bass, a guy with an unfortunate jew-fro on guitar and vocals, and a stringy
haired metal dude drummer.
And they kicked ass. The sound was all over the place, from metallish Black Sabbath riffing, to
Spiritualized style soulful feedback freakout to thundering punk to crunchy indie rock. Julia Cumming
sang and thumped the bass.
The photogenic Ms. Cumming:
Nick Kliven played guitar thought a ton of pedals and sang a bit.
Farber tied it altogether with several catchy riffs.
A few of their tunes were instrumental, the band powering through, not even needing vocals.
B&W photography by MBarnes.
It was really an impressive set. I liked watching them work and liked the scattered nature of the
Then it was time for Yuck, who went on just after 11:30pm.
They started the set with Hold Me
Closer followed by Cannonball, kicking off with the opening tracks of their brand new album, Stranger Things. And they sounded great – the voice was either crisp or fuzzy as the
needs of the song dictated, and the guitars danced and slid against each other with feedback and
chiming distortion. The drumming was a powerful thudding.
About four songs in, as i stood there dancing happily, my girlfriend said, “I know why you like
She nodded. “They sound like Superchunk!” I think Superchunk on the final Laura Balance tour was
the first show i ever dragged her too, as she had to watch me pogo like a fool to 100,000 Fireflies
with my fellow Minions! [Brendan’s Note: And that didn’t scare her off???]
But yes, there is a certain bit of Superchunk’s shiny, upbeat pop to what Yuck do. Live, Yuck
drummer Jonny Rogoff does the best Jon Wurster impression that i have ever heard. Yuck’s guitars are
higher pitched and clearer, more chiming that Superchunk’s distorted growl. And of course, Max Bloom
is not as high-pitched of a singer as Mac McCaughan. But i think i hear what she is getting at.
And, yes, that is a type of sound that i love. I thoroughly enjoyed this Yuck performance, and
bounced around like a fool as they tore through most of Stranger Things, including
stunning renditions of Hearts In Motion as well as the title track of that record. I know they
played a few tunes off of Glow & Behold, but i suck at song titles and could not tell you
which ones. They played a few older tunes too, and really got the crowd moving.
I am really glad that i got to see Yuck. I am also glad the my girlfriend did not hate them, like she did
with Russian Circles when i took her to that show… But what was i thinking taking a Deadhead to see a
post-metal show anyway???
But Yuck were amazing. Definitely one of my favorite shows in years. And Sunflower Bean were
pretty cool too.