On the first weekend since Yuck released their self titled debut, anticipation for this live performance is high. So is the man stood directly in front of us, already swaying from side to side before even the support band emerge. Yet the wide grin he broadcasts gleefully as he stumbles over our shoes eventually turns out to be an accurate premonition of the lasting effect tonight will have.
In this intimate venue the sardines’ simile simply doesn’t do things justice. There’s barely enough room to raise your hands and clap in appreciation when the mushroom-cloud hair of drummer Jonny Rogoff becomes visible in the distance. Without a word the wall-of-sound wields into action. The distorted rasp of current single, Holing Out, is played note perfect. Even fuzzy feedback is replicated from disc, not ear piercing high pitch electric screams, but daedal squeals which emphasise the carefree attitude of this self-produced debut.
It’s hard not to wish the four-piece cared a little more onstage though. “Wake me up tomorrow,” a chorus line from the aforementioned track takes on new meaning given front-man Daniel Blumberg’s vacant stare. Their shoegazing act can at times convey itself as lethargy, which is not in keeping with such a vibrant sound. Maybe the jaded daze Blumberg hides behind is down to the fact that he is in effect touring his second debut album, having amassed crowds like this earlier with Cajun Dance Party, only to be forgotten.
Fellow Cajun member Max Bloom rolls up his sleeves for second song, The Wall, in which the single line repetition of “you can see me if you’re tall,” becomes a form of advice for this sell-out Manchester crowd who jostle around for a glimpse of the band. Equally the spectacle eludes Rogoff, the man wielding the sticks. “I can’t see it,” he says while perched behind the drums on a low stage. “If I can’t see it then I don’t know it exists,” he laughs. This response is understandable for a group trying to stay level-headed as momentum behind their music builds exponentially.
Huge support is shown as the familiarity of previous limited edition release, Georgia, proves to be the catalyst for an impromptu mosh-pit. Yet this live set will be remembered for more than the Sonic Youth, Teenage Riot leaning Operation, or the meandering distortion of Rubber. Yuck are unwilling to do things on anyone else’s terms. They literally stand under their own banner, unwilling to be categorized or seen as simple lo-fi revivalists.
Hence, what really comes across here is the variety on offer. The lyrical tenderness of Suck, with its religious imagery, the subtlety of instrumental, Rose Gives A Lilly, and the depth of Suicide Policeman, all emphasise dexterity. Consequently this time Blumberg and Bloom will have to think about making a second record.
Words: Simon Butcher
Photography: Duncan Elliott