Concert Review | YACHT sails with incredible electronic show
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 14:10
For a band born within the confines of a laptop, YACHT has grown almost boundless when it comes to electrifying audiences. YACHT began as the solo project of Jona Bechtolt in Portland, Oregon in 2002. After a series of commissioned performances, it expanded into a duo with long-time collaborator Claire Evans joining as a permanent member in 2008. Now promoting its fifth album, “Shangri-La” (2011), YACHT is in full electro-punk swing.
YACHT is difficult to define. When you hear the group, you can’t help but be reminded of Eurythmics, the ’80s techno duo comprised of Annie Lennox and David Stewart that made it big with their hit “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (1983). However, while YACHT brings something eerily familiar to the table, it also brings something shockingly unique. The duo’s fusion of electro-synth melodies and punk mentality excites at a time when music, even in the so-called “indie” genre, has become monotonous and commercialized. Reminiscent of the electro-pop-punk of the ’80s, YACHT seems to intentionally blur the lines between musical genres.
Like many critically acclaimed start-ups, YACHT is doing its best to remain true to its identity while garnering a wider audience. One of its songs was featured on the show “Portlandia” in an ode to hipsters everywhere, which proved to be a perfect outlet for its sound.
YACHT’s Oct. 20 performance at the Boston House of Blues was simply incredible. Accompanied by three touring band mates -- Rob Kieswetter on bass, Jeffrey Brodsky on drums and Katy Davidson on guitar -- Bechtolt and Evans took to the stage in a rage of alternative-dance-punk fury. Though it was not the headliners of the night, YACHT stole the show, bringing a high intensity dance fervor that the audience was hungry for.
As the band’s lead singer for most of the night, Evans proved to be the proverbial engine of the machine. Commanding the attention and admiration of the audience, Evans displayed her trademark dance-moves, flailing her arms and stomping her feet in perfect time. There was something undeniably visceral and liberating about the experience. The venue, a little under-occupied, was perfect for dancing and jumping along to YACHT’s strong bass and shiny treble. The feeling was one of audience interaction, as if the crowd was privy to one of the band’s casual but furious jam sessions.
Over the course of the night, the band played songs off of its new album, “Shangri-La,”as well their 2009 release, “See Mystery Lights”.Songs like “Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire)” and “I Walked Alone” were crowd pleasers, offering repetitive refrains, high energy and opportunities to sing and dance along with them. Both songs, however, allude to darker, more cosmic issues within the world, much like the album in its entirety. “Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire),” for example, is a thinly veiled allusion to the crisis of global warming. During YACHT’s set, these universal and somewhat menacing undertones came to a forefront through the tone and ferocity of Evans’ and Bechtolt’s performances.
To finish the night, the band performed “It’s Boring (You Can Live Anywhere You Want),” an eight-minute jam about the current state of the music industry and the issue of self-expression. During the song, Evans offered the microphone to the audience so they could sing and yell along to, “You can live / Any way you want!” This refrain grew into an incredible crescendo that resulted in zealous dancing. After finishing its set, the band left the stage politely and calmly, thanking the crowd for their energy and participation.
YACHT’s performance was not great just because it brought an incredible energy and sound to the stage -- the musicians showcased their talents as a live band as well. Above all, YACHT is a group of incredibly talented musicians. All too often with electro-synth bands, live performances leave something to be desired. It is one thing to create a perfect sound in the comforts of a studio, but it is another thing entirely to produce the same sound live. YACHT has mastered its art, creating fresh and exciting sounds in its albums that the group is able to bring to the stage night after night.