Following the release of their album ‘Pursuit Of Momentary Happiness’, Yak have been busy on tour promoting it. On Monday, the Wolverhampton trio played a seven-song set to a packed-out Rough Trade, Bristol. According to the band’s slightly over-the-top Spotify biography, ‘making [the] band’s second album became about pursuing [Oli Burslem’s] artistic vision at the expense of all else’, and – in all fairness – this rang true. The band played their hearts out on stage, making a huge sound with tonnes of energy and excellent dynamics, despite the somewhat unusual choice to play sitting down. The mood ebbed and flowed from laid-back and melancholy to angst-ridden and urgent. Although this isn’t unusual for indie music, Yak managed to pull this off without being clichéd. Perhaps this was thanks to the band’s evident honesty in their performance.
Frontman Oli Burslem’s vocals were powerful and versatile throughout, jumping back and forth in the classic ‘indie’ way between a sorrowful drone and cutting shouts. Songs where this was especially apparent were ‘White Male Carnivore’ and ‘Fried’, both of which had a strong sense that they were taking Yak‘s audience on an emotional journey. Burslem’s guitar playing stood up equally strongly to his singing too, whether that was playing ambient, reverberated surfy riffs accompanying his softer vocal moments, or beautifully saturated, wailing solos. Use of wah in ‘Layin’ It On The Line’ created a dreamy and spooky feel, adding a Wild West edge to the song.
Elliot Rawson and Vincent Davies put on impressive performances behind the kit and bass respectively. All of Rawson’s build-ups and sudden switches from loud to soft, and back again, were delivered with precision and conviction, matched by Davies’s bass playing. The pair brought the songs to life in a gentle, sensitive manner just as well as they could with attack and ferocity. Yak really went to town in the closing song, ‘This House Has No Living Room’, beginning with a nostalgic, road trip-like mood before throwing themselves into a super noisy, anxious outro section whose ending evoked a similar feeling to that of waking up from a nightmare. 8.5/10
© Emily Engleheart