Sam Lee 08/10/2010
Hype bands will always come and, after a brief but intense spell in the spotlight, fade away just as rapidly as they appeared. Just ask Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom. They had their five minutes of fame back in 2007 as two-fifths of NME favourites Cajun Dance Party. And now they're back - along with a drummer from New Jersey and a bassist from Hiroshima - as Yuck. Despite being so hot off the press, they've already been on the receiving end of some serious hype this year, but can they justify it live?
Fanzine must have been a pretty obvious choice as support band tonight. Sounding like a more accessible version of tonight's headliners, their short set of 90s-influenced Americanised alt-rock seems to go down well with the modest crowd, which, for the majority of the time, includes three of Yuck's members.
Just as Fanzine's set comes to a close, the size of the crowd starts to increase. Then, after an unnecessarily lengthy delay, Yuck stride onto the stage with the quiet confidence of a much more experienced band. They launch straight into 'The Wall', which is Sonic Youth in sound but The Strokes in spirit, before rattling through two more without so much as acknowledging the audience who have crowded around the stage. Bassist Mariko's eyes are concealed mysteriously beneath her dark block fringe throughout and, with the exception of Blumberg when he's at the mic, the whole band seems more happy to hunch over their instruments than so much as glance at the crowd. The whole shoegaze image starts to seem just a tad contrived, but then, following a prolonged wail of feedback, the blissfully fuzzy 'Georgia' silences any potential naysayers (erm, me). Next, the more subdued 'Suicide Policeman' features extended instrumental sections, but is at it's best when stripped back to just Blumberg's vocals and guitar.
Following a new song that is lacking in both energy and originality, the atmosphere is lightened immeasurably by drummer Jonny's sudden wide grin and unashamedly American exclamation of “Hey! What's up Bristol?” Sadly, this moment of optimism is dampened somewhat by another track that's just as forgettable as the previous one. After this, having found his voice, Jonny initiates a crowd vote and, after apologetically declining requests for 'Automatic' (“We're in manual mode tonight”), agrees to play 'Sunday', which, with its chilled out and slightly wistful vibe, comes on like a soundtrack to an alternative US teen movie. The gloriously lazy 'Rubber' seems like a slightly odd song to close the set, but somehow it just about works; its a fuzz-laden, blurry-eyed slice of Velvet Underground-esque drone-rock, which ends the night on a whole load of feedback and an uncharacteristically downbeat note.
Tonight Yuck showed that they might just have the potential to be something more than a mere flash in the pan. But although songs like 'Georgia', 'Sunday' and 'Rubber' show that Dan and Max certainly haven't lost the ability to pen a decent tune, some of their other tracks suggest that they might have a tendency to get a bit stuck in their own ways. Don't get me wrong, tonight they proved that they deserve all of the hype they've been getting. But only just.