"Gandhi comes but once a year" - Yard Act battle for chart success with last minute Manchester show!
Although the bright Pink aesthetic and limited 250 capacity of YES' middle floor might not be where you would expect to see a band that is on the cusp of their debut number 1 album. Yet the unbeatable sound of a cowbell being sound checked meant that this was indeed the venue for the countries hottest new band, Post-Punk wordsmiths Yard Act.
All photos from Piran Aston
The release of their debut album 'The Overload' has seen them thrust into the midst of a chart battle with Years & Years (Olly Alexander from Channel 4's It's A Sin). The album and indeed the band, have made an instant impact on the guitar scene with their fractured dance beats, dead pan euphoria, witty social commentary and vibrant, mosh-worthy energy combining to raise them straight to the top of the Indie game. As a last ditch attempt to reject their anti-capitalist nature and peruse that holy grail that is a number 1 album they booked in an intimate last minute Manchester gig to showcase the best of their new record to those quick fingered enough to grab a ticket to the sell out show.
Yard Act entered the stage, minus front man James Smith, and jumped into a crashing Garage Rock instrumental. For a band who's sound revolves so heavily around the weaving lyrical content of their vocalist it was good to see the bland play briefly as a trio just to highlight their technical proficiency as musicians. Just as it started to feel that the instrumental may be dragging on too long guitarist Sam Shipstone had to pop his head backstage while still playing to call their charismatic singer on stage. This slightly shambolic yet musically fantastical opening would come to encapsulate the subsequent show.
Four gigs in one day had left James Smith perhaps a little too deep into the bottle of House Red and rendered him dreary eyed and philosophical. Yet, although this did account for the numerous Oscar acceptance speech feeling monologues that interspersed the set, it merely added to the charming honesty of the band's persona and didn't hold him back from delivering his coiled social discourse down the mic with even more intent than on the record.
Highlights came in the form of the echoed angsty response to content creation in 'The Incident' and the short and snappy sing-a-long of 'Witness (Can I Get A?)'. The later is probably the most accessible from the new record and Smith commented that it was "the kind of album we would have written if we couldn't be arsed". However, the track that really ignited the crowd and got micro-moshpits sparking up in bustling blotches around the room was the funky, dance-inducing 'Payday'. Smith voiced his surprise that it had been that song that really got people moving but it shouldn't have come as a shock that such a groove-centric song with an easy to remember chorus line "Take the money and run" would go down well.
It wasn't long before the show's organiser had tapped her watch, James Smith had managed to thank everyone under the sun and even managed to start chants of "Gandhi! Gandhi!". He claimed that their record had been endorsed by the man himself and accidentally muttered what should 100% be your next tattoo "Gandhi comes but once a year". Bassist Ryan Needham added "that's strange because Gandhi famously hated Post-Punk which is proof that we are not a Post-Punk band". Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how much this new wave of thriving new bands attempt to avoid being boxed into the genre I will continue to press the Post-Punk stamp on them as long as it has ink. The ties between this new breed of artists and the classic Post-Punk acts such as Joy Division and Gang Of Four are becoming increasingly minimal yet the preference for thick bass lines, repetitive underlying beats and vocals that dance between joy and sorrow are traits that still remain for now.
There was time for just one more song, the albums title track 'The Overload'. It radiated an infectious energy that allowed the aforementioned bite-sized moshpits to expand to grab-bag proportions. The centre of the room waited in anticipation for the vocal cue "and that's bleak" to dive into the pit for a chorus that combines all the best elements of their music. The instrumentals were cohesive, acting as one big wall of sound that was joyful in rhythm yet menacing in tone as James Smith did what he does best and commanded the room to repeat back his social commentary in Punk poet fashion.
Of course recency bias will make this claim fall short of significance but after hearing 'The Overload' live it really felt like a song for a generation with it's kind of 'they're fucking us over but let's dance for the moment' attitude and super catchy chorus. For anyone new to Yard Act it is where I would start listening, it acts as a great entry point and provided the perfect close to a night that disproved any who thought the Leeds quartet don't totally deserve to be battling the country's biggest stars for number one.
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