The lollipop head of Yuck/Oupa’s Daniel Blumberg – all curls atop a pale, two-legged broomstick – lopes over to the merch booth at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom on April 21 and after watching him for a few minutes out of the corner of my eye, with the other trained on beer and friends, I pounce…
…like an old groupie vampire and introduce myself. He extends a limp, hesitant boy handshake. I fear I may break him. But he’s funny. Sweet. He seems flummoxed when I tell him that I’ve been going on about Yuck for a Hipster Year (at least three weeks) to all my friends. And that many of them are at the show, tonight. Some of them aren’t even staying for the headliner.
We chat. His solo project Oupa – yeah, the boy with the critic’s pick debut album already has a solo project – just opened up for Sebadoh in New York City, and we had a laugh about the Bowery show. I go to leave him to finish rolling his cig, but he sorta leans in towards me and wants to keep chatting. He talks in chopped spurts, as if there are commas between all words, and excitedly shares about how at the ‘Doh show, Lou Barlow announced he was gonna sell t-shirts after the show at the Bowery, so “I, like, ran up, with all my tapes, just, so I, could sell ‘em beside him.” He grins. Sheepishly. Then he thanks me, genuinely, for supporting the band. I thank him, genuinely, for throwing the rockhands for my gallery when they were down at SXSW.
Blumberg might be like, 12 years old (actually reverse those numbers…but same diff), weighs about 50 ounces so that if he turns sideways he disappears down a bicycle grate, and is endearingly awkward as all hell, but the guy fronts one of my fave new bands.
Along with Max Bloom, Mariko Doi (both of whom he shares vocals) and the marvellous afro’d drummer Jonny Rogoff, London’s Yuck are yummy. They’ve got a self-titled debut that’s been netting them (oft-repeated) comparisons to Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, Neutral Milk Hotel and all things 90s US slacker. There’s bits of that, sure… But I hear also hear Swervedriver, Teenage Fanclub and some shoegaze mixed with bit of a sunshine (“Georgia”/”Suicide Policeman”) Whatever hook you wanna hang it on, Yuck’s album is good debut if you dig those reference points.
Live? They’re as you’d expect for a super-young band. At the Vancouver gig opening for Tame Impala, Mariko looked bored out her skull in her cowboy boots, Max mumbled something about spliff clouds and dry ice, Jonny charmingly mouthed the words along to every song as he tapped out his drum beats. And Daniel stared off into space, slack jawed, unable to focus on anything other that vague point in the distance. Lyrics were mumbled. But then he warmed up. He’d look out, look round at the band, at Max, and smile…and then belt out and punish his guitar. “Rubber”, the band’s final track of the night, grew into a massive epic fuzz. Nice!
So yeah, Yuck. I love ‘em. Give ‘em a year or two to get their roadlegs, refine their sound and grow…then watch out. Thar’s some talent in them kids, hoo boy. \m/
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