Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eww! Yuck sludges up the Mercy Lounge

Yuck pummels the Mercy Lounge with their grimy lo-fi assault.

Say what you will about big time concerts featuring major fanfare and well known artists, but sometimes you can't beat seeing a little indie band kick it. As I made my way to the Mercy Lounge last Wednesday, the scene couldn't have been more perfect.

The weather was warm outside but you couldn't help but notice the slightest touch of autumn in the air. The Mercy Lounge is one of those small intimate venues where everyone gets a shot at getting up close to the performers. Sort of like The End but much nicer.

It's one of those places where you can enjoy the taste of $3 Miller High Lifes while chatting with the chick at the merch stand who seems a little too buzzed for her own good. And you never know who you'll meet at these shows. The show started almost an hour late, so I shot the shit with this one guy about 90s alt-rock, Indiana, and upcoming concerts we wanted to see. All the while, he was doing his darnedest to convince me that this guy at the bar was the lead singer from the Black Keys.

Daniel Blumberg does his best Dinosaur Jr. impression.
And don't forget the ladies. Not everybody loves an indie girl, but I find it's hard to beat the sight of these chicks in their berets wearing black stockings and denim skirt clutching the neck of a Black and Tan bottle.

The band in question? Yuck, who have garnered critical acclaim for their take on 90s alternative rock, and for capturing the zeal of bright eyed youthful exuberance. Their set was marked with aggressive fuzzy guitar and loud feedback between songs.

There is an interesting dynamic to Yuck's sound. Crunchy rockers like "Georgia" capture the raw fist pumping excitement of Dinosaur Jr. while songs like "Suicide Policeman" and "Shook Down" see them prove positively proficient at channeling a band like Pavement.

Throughout the 12 song set, Yuck covered most of the album highlights as well as throwing a few surprises at us. "Milkshake," from their recently released 7" Milkshake/Shook Down single. We also got a look at a new song, "Soothe Me," which spotlights vocalist/guitarist Daniel Blumberg's pained cries in the main hook.

"Get Away," with its melodic guitar leads, is an obvious highlight. As was "Georgia," which is usually a spotlight for bassist Mariko Doi. I found it disappointing she didn't sing lead like on the album, with Blumberg tackling lead vocals while Doi was relegated to a bystander doing only backup vocals in the chorus. Guitarist Max Bloom stepped in to handle the shouty parts in the final chorus. They sound well together, but I really liked the arrangement on the album also. 

It all led up to set closer "Rubber," which smacks heavily of Sonic Youth. I wasn't a major fan of this song on the record, but I can't help but be absorbed by how the band rocks out like no tomorrow.

Mariko Doi delivers with her voice and her four strings.
The Stone Roses-ish "Sunday" was the only obvious hit missing from the setlist, and not surprisingly a small contingent of fans kept calling for that song throughout the night.

Finally, Bloom responded, "Sunday? It's fucking Wednesday." Blumberg dryly remarked to him that he gets a 7/10 for stage banter.

With all said, Yuck presents a unique quandary as to what it is that makes them so critically acclaimed. The musicianship, other than maybe lead guitarist Max Bloom, is nothing extraordinary and Yuck wasn't all that energetic on stage. I had to wonder if this is a case of a band getting noticed just out of mimicking their influences very closely.

Then I thought: nah, the songwriting itself is just too damn good.

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