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XOYO, London
Tuesday May 8 2012



Eaux - pronounced 'Oh' - at XOYO - pronounced...well, what would you say? Me, I've always assumed the venue was named after that rather fine 1982 song by The Passage, in which case it's ex-oh-why-oh. We'll go with that, shall we?

We'll also go with Eaux, who are on stage making an ambient-ish deep-water swirl of sound, fuzzy like sea mist, ebbing and flowing like tides. It's not rock 'n' roll, that's for sure, although at times the band push the beat to the fore and turn their atmospheres into something approaching a trancey groove.

It's nice, if a little smooth. The kind of stuff you'd dig if you wandered into the chillin' tent at a festival in search of some mellow vibes. As the opening band at an East London basement gig - where you really want a bit of musical push and shove to get the evening going - it must be said that Eaux end up sounding a little too much like mere background music for comfort. But if you want mellow, they've got it.

And if you want yellow, here comes YACHT's cheery cheese triangle, projected onto the distressed concrete of the venue's back wall. Logos, slogans, concepts - YACHT have an entire sea container's worth. But let's not go too far with the seafaring metaphors, for YACHT is a non-nautical acronym. It stands for 'Young Americans Challenging High Technology' (how do you do that? Offer your computer out for a fight?). But that's just the start of it.

YACHT, we're told, originated as a 'solo cross-disciplinary experiment' for founder member Jona Bechtolt, which sounds like something you'd get up to in Yachtthe back room of a fetish club. More recently, with the addition of vocalist Claire L. Evans, YACHT have become something more akin to a conventional pop group - which still doesn't make them particularly convetional. 

I mean, this is a pop group that describes itself as a 'Band, Belief System, and Business' and generously assures us that 'All people are welcome to become members of YACHT.'

This is a pop group that 'seeks to explore frontiers and to expand awareness of Extraterrestrial Intelligence'.

This is a pop group that - I kid you not - has an official tattoo policy.

But all this weighty conceptualism doesn't get in the way of YACHT's insistent, relentlessly danceable new wavey music, or indeed their witty, engaging stage presence.

Jona Bechtolt, mostly on guitar and occasionally on keyboards and vocals, is a hyperactive geek on a spree, throwing himself into the performance with entirely unselfconscious enjoyment. But YACHT's on-stage identity is really in the hands of Claire L. Evans, who commands the front-centre position with a certain knowing kookiness. She might fling herself about like an aerobics instructor who's just discovered vogueing, but she maintains an air of judicious cool throughout, as if she's always aware which side of the irony-line she's dancing on.

The tunes pack an assertive punch. The drums give everything a backbone; the guitar is clipped and choppy. Electronics sweep through the mix like a yard broom. Plot a point on a line between LCD Soundsystem (YACHT's labelmates on DFA Records, interestingly enough) and the staccato, minimal disco of Robots In Disguise, and that's where Yacht tie up (I'll allow myself one more nautical metaphor, OK?). The songs are relentlessly dancable, never less than naggingly catchy, and through it all the notion that there's art at work here lends a touch of substance to the musical hijinks.

YachtNew songs pack the set, notably the twitchy, Talking Heads-on-too-much-coffee of 'I Walked Alone', where Jona Bechtolt's hyperactive David Byrne-isms are perhaps revealingly convincing, while the rattling sort-of funk of  'Utopia' brings a Brian Eno vibe, all loose-limbed braindancing, to the party.

But it's 'Psychic City' - that bumping, swaying anthem to metaphysics, in which YACHT stand revealed as a kind of hippy Devo - that really brings it. The crowd shouts out the punctuation points in the chorus - 'Hoh!'  - with huge gusto, and suddenly all that conceptual guff about 'all people are welcome to become members of YACHT' seems less like cerebral larking about and more like just the way it is.

Count me in among the concepts, kids.


YACHT: Website | Facebook

Eaux: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find YACHT by name here.

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