Yuck at Rhythm Room Last Night


Thursday, February 10, 2011
Rhythm Room, Phoenix

My ears are still ringing as I write this, and I couldn't be happier. Normally, I loathe doling out such large amounts of damage to my eardrums, but if it was at the hands of North London buzz band Yuck, then I think I can take it. Shoegaze is what the band does, and dammit if they don't do it well -- my bleeding eardrums are a testament to their abrasively loud expertise.

Yuck's self-titled debut is a tale of two tempos, if you will. The faster, more upbeat pace of the record includes some of its better songs -- "Get Away," "Holing Out," "Operation" and "Georgia." These songs all sounded great last night, yet this was to be expected. The album's other half -- the more sublime, slowed down songs -- were what made Yuck really stand out. "Stutter" was brilliant in its unexpected change of pace for the night, adding a nice reprieve to a blistering set which had a three-song opener of more raucous efforts in "Holing Out," "The Wall" and "Georgia." 

Yet it was the set closer "Rubber" -- all seven minutes of it -- that solidified things. If you found yourself wondering if Yuck's set was that loud last night, then "Rubber" busted through a brick wall like some sort of shoegaze Kool-Aid Man to remind you, with an emphatic "Ohhh yeah!," that it was. Lead singer Daniel Blumberg threw his guitar on Jonny Rogoff's drums while letting the thing wail and drone -- not before turning the knobs on all the amplifers up just a few more notches and promptly walking off stage. It was up to bassist Mariko Doi to come back a few seconds later to turn everything down. Blumberg wanted the crowd to know just how loud his band could be, and I'm sure everyone in the crowd took notice.

At its core, Yuck is two Brits from a former buzz band, a drummer from New Jersey with a magnificent white man's afro and a bassist from Hiroshima who wore heels and had braces. Suffice it to say, they were quite an intriguing-looking band up on stage. Their message, however, was their raw, fantastically loud power -- the likes of which would make My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields blush. 

Yuck has been staging a run of impressive live shows in the United States, gaining a frightening amount of buzz, all before their debut album is released next week. Right now, however, the only "buzz" I associate with Yuck is the residual ringing in my ears.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Yuck at the Rhythm Room.

The Crowd: Plenty of young hipsters and other indie rock types. If Yuck wasn't gaining enough word of mouth, Smith Westerns took care of the rest. Another solid crowd this week for the Rhythm Room. Good on you, Phoenix.

Personal Bias: Ever since I heard "Get Away," I have not been able to stop listening to Yuck. I wrote a dandy preview of the show, as well.  

Overheard In The Crowd: "I just got brainfucked by Yuck." You and me both, brother.

Random Notebook Dump: "Max sings 'Operation,'" noting that lead guitarist Max Bloom -- not lead singer Daniel Blumberg -- sings on what may just be the best song on Yuck's debut album.

One More Thing: I had a brief chat with drummer Jonny Rogoff and guitarist Max Bloom after their set. Rogoff was unbelievably genuine and humble while taking the time to talk with me. He's an absolutely stand-up guy, and I wish nothing but the best for he and his bandmates.