Few things lure me from the warmth of libation and my couch on an icy weeknight. If a band can convince me to endure sub-freezing temperatures, the company of myself and a trek to the Williamsburg waterfront, they must be pretty damn good. Brooklyn duo Yvette were more than worth my wet boots when they played at Death By Audio last Tuesday. They weren’t headlining but they were the reason the show caught my attention in the first place. I had been scrolling through weeks of show listings and their name kept popping up, often highly recommended on some calendars. Typically skeptical of things suggested or not suggested, I suspended my suspicion and streamed some of their music . What I heard not only delighted but surprised me, as I don’t know of many current bands even walking the road Yvette is barreling down.
Their sound is a nod to 80s post-punk from London, gothic industrial via Berlin and the aggressive proto-punk of our very own New York City. Think Throbbing Gristle, Suicide, Joy Division, Psychic T.V., Nurse With Wound, Death in June, and The Birthday Party, to name a few beats resonating from Yvette. Given that those are some of my all time favorite bands, it’s no shock that they excited me. It’s also nice to hear someone depart from the sunny folk revival and the pleasant ambient noise of late to bring a darker sound to the table. Yet despite Yvette’s aggressive and ominous feel, their presence didn’t determine the rest of the show.
If there was a common thread running through the lineup of the evening, it was far too thin to detect. First up was Rat Attack, a duo wielding only a laptop, microphone and effects pedals. I liked their sound, which was more aggressive and distorted than that of Yvette’s. It was their live presence, though, that I wasn’t so fond of. The music was perfectly jagged and malevolent but it was compromised by the ridiculous image of two dudes rocking out with a macbook pro. There was no interaction with the crowd and they may as well been in their own living room. I’d say Rat Attack would be best heard on headphones so the listener can pick up the intricacies of their mixing.
Second on the bill was Seven Teares, who embodied the most extreme outliers of the evening. Their sound is difficult to pin but consists of down tempo ballads with vocal harmonies reminiscent of medieval songs. The band’s members are all impressive vocalists and multi-instrumentalists. They were swapping basses for guitars, accordions for microphones, and drums for what looked like a xylophone. Most bewildering was a strange wooden instrument on top of one member’s knee that looked like a organ-accordion hybrid and everybody in the crowd was trying to figure out what it was. Fortunately I could employ my acclaimed eavesdropping skills as the man standing next to me explained to his date that it was a portative organ. These herald back to the 12th century and were typically used for recreational music. Somehow the band trumped their own oddness when the drummer whipped out a violin bow and a chunk of Styrofoam, a foe far worse than nails on a chalkboard. The only thing they were missing was a lute.
Finally Yvette came on, and they put on one hell of a show. Despite their music being heavily reliant on digital embellishments and effects pedals, they consist of a guitarist/vocalist and an energetic drummer who supplied the vitality desired at a live performance. This was not two dudes and a laptop, but two very capable musicians who are exploring sonic possibilities beyond the traditional scope of their respective instruments. There was an interaction between the duo that seemed enthusiastic and concentrated.
The headlining band was Aa (a nod to Crass pronounced Big A, little a), who were releasing their record that evening. Consisting of three drummers and one vocalist/keyboardist, the bands sound is simultaneously soothing and aggressive. They are considered post-punk on a critical level, but tout influences reaching back to prog-rock.
I hope and expect to hear more from Yvette and Aa in the coming future. Maybe when it’s warmer out.
Check out Yvette’s “With Fangs”below: