YACHT at Crescent Ballroom, 6/14/12
Photos by Melissa Fossum
Summer usually finds us in the concert doldrums. There are some good shows here and there, but mostly we opt for pool parties and air conditioning while eagerly awaiting fall. This hasn't really been the case this year thanks to a concert calendar full of artists that don't play in Phoenix that often, which is why I'd like to call last night's YACHT show Santigold Part Two.
The Portland-based cult-pop crew and Santi don't have a lot in common beyond making music that people in skinny jeans love to dance horribly to, but that's what was so amazing about both shows -- the fact that people did get up to (horribly) dance in a sold-out venue while staring a beautifully strange and energetic woman in the face.
YACHT sounds like what would happen if James Murphy produced The B-52's. The Portland electropop/new wave band is on Murphy's label, DFA Records, and Evans sort resembles a mix of Debbie Harry and Annie Lennox in their prime.
The group's performance focused more on dancing and having a good time than its inherent weirdness -- YACHT is an acronym for Young Americans Challenging High Technology, the band has a stringent tattoo policy, and a lengthy manifesto. The three men in the band wore black and Evans sported a white fishnet top with a black bra underneath.
But looking back on Thursday night's set, what stands out most is Evans wading through the crowd during "The Afterlife," a girl bumping her knee while trying to stand on the bleachers to dance, and hearing the crowd shout along lyrics of "Psychic City (Voodoo City)."
YACHT had its quirks, but didn't always live up to its clearly kooky potential. Evans asked who had seen what she described as the most-observed extraterrestrial phenomenon in history in "the late '80s or early '90s," the Phoenix Lights (which happened in 1997). A good amount of people raised their hands or cheered, and she accused some of bullshitting because, after all, it was a pretty young crowd. Her accusation was done in jest because "we believe in extraterrestrial life and we hope you do too."
After a danceable version of "Love in the Dark," Evans talked about the band's last show in Phoenix about three years ago, expressing her gratitude at seeing so many new faces last night. She then staged a question-and-answer session in which we found out that Jona Bechtolt (vocalist and essentially the mastermind behind YACHT) is a Sagittarius, Evans is a "textbook Scorpio," and the band's "fifth" member is not Jesus, but their number one friend, Steve the merch guy. Evans later encouraged fans to visit the merch table if anyone had questions or any anxiety.
Last night was the band's second-to-last show before it wraps up the Shangri-La tour. Evans said a lot of the tour was an "endless sensory blur, but tonight is special." For all I know, she said that every night, but last night really was special, at least from the standpoint of a Phoenix concertgoer. Evans' advice to "take advantage of the short time we have on this Earth and party," was taken to heart as the audience went wild to songs like "Psychic City" and "Shangri-La."
Last Night: YACHT at Crescent Ballroom.
Personal Bias: I enjoyed YACHT while eagerly waiting for The Descendents to start playing at FYF.
The Crowd: Face paint and skipper hats made for great people-watching.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I couldn't take my eyes off her [Claire Evans]" and "that was more formative than preachy."
Random Notebook Dump: Don't drink the Kool-Aid; drink Kiltlifter instead.
See page three for the setlist and some more photos.
Setlist (based on personal observations and best guesses from other cities): Paradise Engineering Summer Song Beam Me Up I Walked Alone Love in the Dark Tripped and Fell in Love In Love With a Ripper The Afterlife It's Not About Who You Know Wasting Time Psychic City (Voodoo City) Dystopia
Encore: Shangri-La Utopia
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