Report: Yuck + La Sera Live in San Fran


British combo returns
to the scene of the crime – the Independent night club – with a dizzying set of
psych-pop on April 15.


By Jud Cost


A huge screen begins to flicker with scattered images
resembling a Rorschach test done with Japanese brush painting as the band
strides briskly onto the stage of San
Francisco’s Independent night club. If you weren’t
quite sure who they were, “YUCK” appears onscreen in giant letters,
taller than any of its four musicians-Daniel Blumberg on vocals and rhythm
guitar, Max Bloom on lead guitar and vocals, bassist Mariko Doi and drummer
Jonny Rogoff.


His shock of frizzy red hair illuminated by the stage lights
as it droops across one eye, Blumberg resembles a question mark as he leans
over from the shoulders, twisting ever closer to the mic as though he might be
electrocuted if he happened to touch it. The sound of the band is electrifying,
only hinted at by its fine, self-titled 2011 debut album on Fat Possum. They may never be able to get the
cataclysmic rumble they create live down on wax, but they’ve come to the right
town with their mind-altering anthems. It’s a welcome “coals to Newcastle” return to the scene of the crime, the
re-ignition of the long dead pilot-light of the psychedelic blast furnace that
once reverberated through San
Francisco’s ballroom scene, 45 years ago.


With Doi dressed in a blue mini-skirt and shiny red pirate
go-go boots and Rogoff sporting the largest afro seen in these parts since the
heyday of hippie drummer Buddy Miles, the professorial-looking Bloom stands
stage right, tap-dancing around his battery of guitar effects-pedals. The fuzz,
wah-wah and reverb boxes get plenty of use tonight, as images of many of the
great psych/garage bands from the past 50 years flicker before your eyes. From
the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Ride and Cream to Butthole Surfers, the Jesus and
Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, Yuck may sound like all (or none) of them
depending on your frame of reference (and what you’ve ingested recently).


The vocals (mostly by Blumberg, but some by Bloom) float up
through this bubbling concoction to add a pinch of rich melody capable of
taking you in many different directions. “Thanks for coming out,”
says Blumberg, who asks how many people saw the band the last time they played
here. “We didn’t really know what to expect.” No doubt true, too, of
the audience, who got a real earful of an exciting young band on their way to
bigger things.




Tonight’s openers, La Sera, are a promising side-project of
Katy Goodman, bassist of the Vivian Girls. The quartet features jangling,
sun-kissed melodies with the guitarist sometimes dialing up penetrating
keyboard lines via special effects. Though her vocals were occasionally lost in
the mix, Goodman, peaking out from under her Barbara Manning-cropped red hair,
should be encouraged by the crowd’s positive reaction to stay on the yellow
brick road, pointed in this same direction.  







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