YAK @ O2 Academy Liverpool

yak 2

Photo courtesy of Jessica Hawkins

Leaning ominously over the edge of the stage with mic stand in hand, lead singer Oli Burslem surveys his crowd as the chaotic mosh-pit continues. He stands like a twisted Lord of Misrule overlooking his own anarchic party with a manic glint in his eye- this was my introduction to YAK.

There is certainly no exaggeration in saying that YAK are one of the most exciting new bands around at the moment. Over the past 12 months the trio have kept themselves very busy with an album release, various singles, touring with indie giants The Last Shadow Puppets and completing their own nationwide tour; this is where I catch a glimpse into their hectic world at the O2 Academy in Liverpool.

When I first arrived at the O2 the crowd was pretty much just me and about ten other people. Thankfully during the two supports, quirky indie-pop trio Peaness and psych-grunge outfit Goat Girl, the room began to fill. First up was Peaness whose tongue in cheek name matched up perfectly with their cool and kooky look. Their set was full of fun and catchy songs and I cannot stop singing one of their singles Oh George since the gig (check it out on Spotify).

Following them was Goat Girl, another all-female line up, who powered through their set with impressive speed and energy. Their set incorporated features of funk, psych and grunge and was played with almost no breaks in-between songs. I couldn’t help thinking as I watched them smash through their set that they looked like the girl-gang I had always wanted to be a part of, definitely worth seeing if you ever get a chance.

At around quarter past nine YAK started to sound check on stage and were on and off for about fifteen minutes. They then all left after  a synth was set up which started to play a strange, twilight-y sound on loop.  The ever growing crowd then had to stand in anticipation for nearly forty minutes until YAK finally began their set. The room which so far had been a very relaxed and calm atmosphere was beginning to turn hostile, one person began to shout’ take your time’ towards the stage.

I can’t decide whether it was a genuine technical problem that was delaying the band or if it is a key part of their gigs to get the crowd riled up to bursting point before their sets, either way by the time YAK finally mounted the stage they had the whole room in the palm of their hands. They began the chaos with Harbour the Feeling and the room erupted around me- I have never been a keen member of the mosh pit myself but it was fun to watch from the side-lines.

The heavy bass and wailing guitars that make up YAK’s sound meant that the gig was a complete attack of the senses. Powering on through such songs as Smile, No and Heavens Above the band showed no sign of slowing down and it felt like the gig just kept gathering momentum, at one point I resigned myself to the fact I was probably going to leave with just a few broken ribs- if I was lucky.

When I did manage to stand upright for more than two minutes I was able to watch Oli Burslem completely tear down the boundary between crowd and stage during Victorious (National Anthem). There was so much energy in the room at this point and Burslem got everyone, with fists raised in the air, chanting ‘Victorious’ during the chorus. Then, with guitar in hand, he launched himself into the crowd.  This was not an isolated incident as Burslem threw himself, with either his guitar or microphone stand, into the crowd several times more throughout the rest of the gig; much to the disarray of the tech guy I presume.

Before Plastic People, which was the last song of their encore, Burslem mumbled, ‘maybe this is the end, who knows?’ into his microphone, ending the gig on a discordant note which, to be honest, befitted the night as a whole.

Fortunately I left the gig with ribs in tact ! The whole evening was truly an event of complete chaos that left you wanting more. Whatever the future of YAK, they have definitely proven themselves to be an exciting new act whose energy and impact on their audience make their live sets impossible to miss.


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