The 90s were great. Well, they may have been. I was relatively young during that time, so I really only remember the music, movies, and TV shows, but those things were great.
It may be unfair, but Yuck is an English band that has been lumped in with a group of 90s revival bands. Based on their debut self-titled album, one can quickly notice the similarities to Dinosaur Jr (when the tambourine came in the first time I heard “Get Away”, I thought I might be listening to a deluxe edition of Green Mind), Teenage Fanclub, and Sparklehorse (“Pig” especially comes to mind).
Even though they seem to wear their influences on their sleeve, the record stands as a great piece of work within itself; or in other words, don’t let critics’ name-dropping dissuade you from listening to this excellent record. The record has gained such praise that the band is re-releasing it as a deluxe edition (which includes the B-sides and a few other new songs) through Fat Possum.
This was the first time Yuck had been to Cleveland, but based on the crowd, you would think they were a local favorite. Well, that or a very hyped band who most people in this city had never seen before and who were curious to see what all the hubbub was about. The Grog Shop was packed. It was the most people I’ve seen in that place in a long time–which really says more about the popularity of the shows I go to rather than attendance at the Grog Shop.
The first band to play was Akron’s The May Company, which is comprised of four guys who have been in a slew of other local bands (Houseguest, the Diffi Cult, Good Morning Valentine, and the Same Things, to list the only ones I know of). Every song was 2 to 3 minutes long and mostly featured crunchy guitars and harmonies. The guitars and bass were passed around to the front three members, who each sang lead on a certain number of songs. It was apparent that these guys knew what they were doing, each showing a great amount of skill at what they were doing, which was also obvious due to how tight the band was as a whole.
Unfortunately, there were multiple times where the crowd talking got to be so loud that you could hear them over the band. This isn’t an issue I would place with the band, but rather an issue that can be found at any packed show. A lot of these people are there only to see the headliner and don’t care about the opener.
For this reason, they don’t see any problem with shouting in their friend’s ear “yeah, I really love going to shows, it’s totally cool” while the band gives it their all. But that’s enough of Cynical, Snobby Me for now. The May Company was great, you know, if you like guitar-based pop music- which I do! They have two EPs out on A Major Record Label, Calling Christopher Speck and Return to Form.
Next up was Porcelain Raft, the solo project of London-based singer-songwriter Mauro Remiddi, former frontman of Sunny Day Sets Fire. The entire set-up was Remiddi, a guitar with effects, and a drum machine. With how well he played to the tracks that the drum machine was producing, I couldn’t even tell what was being played live and what had been pre-produced. I can only imagine how much hours were put into carefully composing each song.
The music was dreamy, and shifted from soft and breezy to moments where Remiddi would shout into the microphone from nearly two feet away, so loud that you could hear his voice better acoustically than through the speakers. Even more obvious than during the first set, the crowd’s talking kept going, and may have been the reason that it seemed Porcelain Raft’s set was short. He did finish it off quite well with “Tip of Your Tongue.” There weren’t any albums for sale at the show (at least none that I saw), but you can find multiple releases here.
Due to the small amount of gear needed by Porcelain Raft, it wasn’t long after his set that Yuck put up a hand-painted banner and took the stage, and the guitar geeks rushed to the front to try and steal the secrets of the band’s pedalboards. They started with a love letter to MBV of a B-side, “The Base of a Dream is Empty,” possibly a decision made to entice the crowd into buying the deluxe edition of the album. After tearing through this and two album tracks (“Holing Out” and “The Wall”), they eased back on “Shook Down” then raised the energy again briefly with “Georgia” before slowing down again for “Suicide Policeman.”
Before playing another B-side, “Milkshake”, they thanked Porcelain Raft and the May Company (who had already said earlier in the night how nice the members of Yuck were), which is always a nice thing to see from headliners. They continued on with “Get Away” (which lacked that tambourine that I’ve come to love, but some studio magic can’t be recreated live, I guess) and another track off the deluxe edition, “Soothe Me” before closing out with three final album tracks, “Suck”, “Operation”, and “Rubber.”
Overall, the show was good. It wasn’t anything mind blowing, but rather exactly what I expected from the record. Well, except for the added 3 minutes or so of feedback at the end of “Rubber,” which is always welcome! That kind of stuff I have come to expect from every band I like that uses Jazzmasters, so that still fits into the enjoyable but not mind blowing category.
I haven’t heard the deluxe edition of the album, but I plan on buying it eventually. The original album is very good, and I really hope the band continues to put out solid records. I would definitely pay to see them again in the future (barring unforeseen events such as them playing at a specific set of bigger venues or charging an outrageous amount of money for tickets), and I hope they come back. If you have a chance and like noisy guitar music, you should see Yuck live.