Monday, 13 June 2016

Memories of 2016 gigs #4

#4: Yak
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - 9 June 2016
Support: Cabbage

Dunno what it is about volume at gigs these days, but not for the first time this year, MrsRobster and I were violently assaulted by a merciless salvo of LOUDNESS to the utter detriment of the show itself. Loud is good, but too loud is most certainly not. What you get is a piercing noise that ironically means you don't actually hear much of what is going on. Believe me, I've been to enough gigs in my time to know what I'm talking about.

That aside, I was looking forward to seeing both bands on tonight's bill. Once more, it was Swiss Adam who tipped me off about a band. In this case, it was support act Cabbage from Manchester. Their sole release, a 5-track EP called 'Le Chou', showcases their warped, satirical brand of psyche-pop. With socio-political messages abound, weird lyrics about dinnerladies masturbating in school dinners, and even a few good tunes, Cabbage have been creating something of a buzz up North.

A small (very young) crowd gathered at the front and were appreciative to the point of personal contact, one young lady even being picked up and swirled around by the singer. The best song was one of the band's newer ones, Necroflat In The Palace, with its chorus that proclaims "I was born in the NHS / I want to die in the NHS." It's about the apparently close relationship between Jimmy Saville and the Royal Family. So not your average pop song. But then, any band named Cabbage could never be your average pop band.

I was chatting to a bloke in the Gents (as you do!) during the interval who said: "Well Yak have got something to live up to," clearly impressed by the support act. He raved about the headliners having seen them a few months before in the tiny downstairs bar at Clwb. "I've heard a lot about them," I told him. "I love the album." "Ah, fuck the album," he retorted. "It's live you have to experience them."

With that build up, and everything else I've heard about Yak to date, I was expecting something mind-shreddingly awesome. And maybe, in the end, along with the LOUDNESS, that was the problem. Yak came on and instantly the place started throbbing. There wasn't a large crowd there, and most of those who were present were barely of legal drinking age (it wasn't a great night for the bar, put it that way), but within seconds a vibrant, energetic mosh pit was in full swing.

If you've not heard of Yak, think The Stooges, MC5, early White Stripes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Spacemen 3, classic-era Sub Pop bands, the Velvet Underground (in their loose, improvised jamming mode) and a few ultra-heavy doom metal chords thrown in for good measure and you're nearly there. Led by a guy who used to sell antique furniture to Thurston Moore (true!), Yak's live shows have become something of legend in the very short time they've been together. And they started strong, rocketing through a slew of tracks from their debut album: Harbour The Feeling, Hungry Heart, Smile, Use Somebody, Alas Salvation, Victorious, etc. Aside from the occasional address to the audience, it was a continuous barrage of aggressively brilliant noise, the songs coming at us like machine-gun fire. And then, at some point, it just dipped.

I'm not sure what it was, but both MrsRobster and I started to lose interest in the last 15-20 minutes or so. It felt like they'd played all their songs so were just recycling some riffs they'd already played and worked them into some directionless jam. A real shame because up to that point, they were fantastic.

There's definitely something going on with Yak. They may never headline Wembley, but they could well be touring arenas in a year or two's time. They just need to make it to an hour of awesomeness before that happens.

MrsRobster's verdict: On Yak: "If they'd played just the first half hour it would have been brilliant." On the mosh pit: "Not so much a mosh pit, more like a creche!"



  1. Great lines from Mrs Robster!!!

    It gets worse as you get me on that one

  2. Just checked these two acts out elsewhere.

    They've both got a lot going for them. Think though, that the similar-sounding Paws are preferable to Yak.