Wednesday, January 26
Better Than: Watching American Idol exploit that brain-damaged woman, evidently
If you’re here tonight, than you really want to be here. This includes your headliners, the classic-indie-guitar-god-worshiping Brits Yuck, who valiantly battled visa issues that axed their planned show last night at Mercury Lounge and probably contributed to their barely making it to this one: “We just got here,” they announce from the stage. As for the crowd, we’ve braved a fuckin’ thunder snowstorm, which begets a two-hour delay further exacerbated by one of the least pleasant opening-band experiences in recent memory. It’s pretty much all worth it, though, when Yuck plays the song about the coconuts.
First, though, we are tasked with surviving Brooklyn’s Total Slacker, a mercilessly plodding lo-fi dirge carnival wherein everyone sings “whoa” off-key a whole lot and the jean-jacketed frontman stands on his tiptoes while unleashing semi-atonal guitar solos of amusing personal intensity. If their set list wasn’t a goof they have songs called “Taco” and “Creepo’s.” This goes on for what seems like an incredibly long time, particularly the last, especially plodding tune, which devolves into a particularly involved amusing guitar freakout, climaxing when the dude destroys both his amp and his guitar, leaping into the crowd and smashing the latter into the floor repeatedly, which I assure you is way more satisfying and cathartic for me than it is for him. Ordinarily I’m opposed to instrument-smashing on economic principle, but I do believe I’ll make an exception.
So Yuck. “It sounds way less like Dinosaur Jr than I thought it would,” a friend had remarked of Yuck’s imminent self-titled debut earlier today, which is true, and yet it still sounds a whole hell of a lot like Dinosaur Jr. This is a band of young cheerful Brits whose frontman will happily admit to having “sort of just shat myself” upon hearing Pavement for the first time; this translates live into bright, scruffy, expertly melodic power-pop (think an actually teenage Teenage Fanclub) laced with precise bursts of J Mascisian distortion. They haul roughly 20 pedals onstage between two guitarists, a bassist, and a delightfully be-Afro’d drummer who smiles brightly and sings along to himself the whole time; upon the conclusion of bouncy b-side “Coconut Bible,” there is a brief whirlwind of onstage high-fives.
These people are tremendously endearing, particularly when they attempt to mellow out. “Suicide Policeman” (as in “I could be your suicide policeman”) is a fine bit of semi-twee jangle, and their own personal satisfying/cathartic closing number is “Rubber,” a seven-minute slow burn, both grunge-heavy and light on its feet, saddled with a ludicrous erotic-dog-washing video but fiendishly catchy all the same, the demurely howled “Should I give in?” chorus the perfect epitaph for a night when nobody did, even the people who should’ve.
Critical Bias: Ah, so Total Slacker is known for this sort of thing.
Overheard: “I can’t believe how wet I am.”
Random Notebook Dump: Trudging back to the Bedford L stop through knee-high snowfall makes for an excellent workout.
Yuck Set List
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 27, 2011