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Wednesday, 05 October 2011 20:27

Concert review: Yuck (with Porcelain Raft) dazzles with indie noise-rock at the Firebird, Tuesday, October 4

Concert review: Yuck (with Porcelain Raft) dazzles with indie noise-rock at the Firebird, Tuesday, October 4 Andrés Romanos
Written by Nathan Brand
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The pre-show rock tunes were pulsing from the ceiling speakers. The sparse crowd sat mingling among the booths at the Firebird and barely noticed as Mauro Remiddi, the lone member of opening act Porcelain Raft, meandered to his microphone.

As the heavy delay and reverb-drenched sounds of his baby-blue guitar filled the space, the layered ambience caused a certain hush to fall about the room. Now intrigued, the congregation stood at almost religious attention as the vocals began to soar in a manner recalling the emotive groans and angelic range of a young Thom Yorke.

As if the calm before the storm, the airy vibe of the set opener was followed by a thundering bass beat launched forth from the drum machine to his right. "Could you all please be quiet," joked Remiddi between songs, continuing to stare down the mic stand. "I'm trying to tune." And aside from the crowd's much appreciative applause, the room obliged. On the last song Remiddi finally raised his attention, but only to stare intently at the back wall as he sang the closing chant of "Tip of Your Tongue" before graciously slinking off the stage.

The canned music played on throughout the venue as the crowd began to mingle again. The members of Yuck hurried in through the main entrance loaded with bags of food and disappeared to their room. A piece of white fabric was hung in back of the stage that read "YUcK" in black brushed lettering. The Y was drawn like a chicken foot with its toes pointed straight up to the sky.

Arriving on a darkened stage, the band took their positions and let the feedback frenzy begin. The multi-colored stage lights started to glow as the group initiated a saturated noise-rock intro that transitioned into their hit "Holing Out."

Lead vocalist and guitarist Daniel Blumberg, with his thin build and curly hair, looked like a young Dylan in denim as he strummed his SG and lazily delivered the lyrics from stage right. In the middle stood bassist Mariko Doi, swaying from side to side as her eyes remained hidden behind her long black bangs, occasionally offering up sweet backing vocals. Max Bloom was helming the chaotically-orchestrated lead guitar work on stage left via a unique Fender Jazzmaster. With electric tape over the guitar's switches and a High Life atop his Orange amp head he also lent vocal support to the group.

Seated in the back, though hardly subtle, was drummer Jonny Rogoff sporting a white-guy afro capable of putting disco's finest to shame. Following Rogoff's beats from full-throttle punching to soft and straight forward, Yuck performed a jangly shoegaze set that careened through the whole of their self-titled debut album. Blumberg, in his thick London accent, told those gathered that this was not actually a concert, but in fact "a party for Jerry," as he thanked their new found friend for directing them to a most delicious deli.

Vocal support from the audience came as the band began playing crowd favorite, "Georgia." Heads nodded and legs bounced along to the chorus. The much more subdued "Suicide Policeman" followed the upbeat sing-along as the single guitar strums laden with heavy vibrato soaked in to the crowd like a final breezy beach sunset. Moving down the setlist, the band continued uninterrupted until they announced a new song. Doi began the tune, laying into a bass line reminiscent of Kim Deal. In fact, the whole jam was rather Pixies-esque, aside from Blumberg's subdued British vocals.

Following the audiences eager applause, Blumberg, who handled basically all spoken aspects of the performance, offered up his condolences for the recent defeat suffered by the Cardinals before Bloom began the gorgeous slide guitar intro to "Suck." As the smooth-skating melody seeped into the bones of the plaid and jean-clad, which by now comfortably filled the venue, the most aggressive display of angst from Blumberg came as he sang the song's second verse: "The edge of heaven is the edge of hell and that's what it felt like at the bottom of the wishing well."

Upon announcing their final song of the evening the band began a whirring beehive of feedback and familiar fuzz as they slid into the album's most lengthy track, the seven-minute psychedelic sway of "Rubber." The group watched, eyes straight ahead as the crowd sang along with the song's repeated question "Should I give in?" before catapulting into a tornado of sound. Bloom and Blumberg collapsed to the stage, manipulating their pedals to create an oscillating outro that shrieked from the speakers as the band shyly waved farewell.

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