Los Angeles - After original lead singer Daniel Blumberg left Yuck in 2013, many speculated that his departure would cause the band to fold. Instead, the remaining members trudged on to release Glow & Behold in 2013. While it was not poorly received, critics found the energy from the band’s self-titled debut did not carry over with the loss of Blumberg. Luckily for fans of Yuck, the band has grown significantly and the remaining members sound more comfortable with themselves on their third album (and second without the original lead vocalist), Stranger Things. Judging from Yuck’s stellar live performance like last week’s appearance at The Echoplex in Los Angeles, music fans can expect to hear a lot more from the band over the coming years.
Early on in the show, Yuck’s set list swung towards newest songs, a smart way to hook in older fans that just came for a taste of the greatest hits from Yuck. Standing out among the performances were “Two Hearts in Motion” and the album-opener, “Cannonball.” The latter is one of the most uptempo songs in the group’s discography. It features brilliantly melodic guitar riffs complemented by a pummeling punk rock beat not unlike something Green Day would have released two decades ago. “Two Hearts in Motion” is more relaxed and lyrically driven. Guitarist Max Bloom has explained that the song’s lyrics contemplate the importance of relationships.
Despite losing what is arguably the most important member of a band, Yuck does not sound remarkably different than in 2011. This was made quite evident as the band transitioned into playing some older Yuck hits. “Holing Out” and “Get Away” fit right in with the newer songs. Bloom held down the majority of the lead vocalist responsibilities, while bassist Mariko Doi occasionally took over as singer. When the two teamed up to sing on several of the songs, the band was at its best. Many bands these days employ a boy/girl singing dynamic but few are able to pull it off so effortlessly. Towards the end of the night, came an audience favorite, “The Wall.” In its recorded version, the song is one of the most lo-fi tracks on Yuck. Several years later, in a live setting, the song was fleshed out with a “bigger” sound, but it still retained the spontaneous energy of its original version.
However, there is no denying that the highlights from the set tended to be the older songs. It’s not that “Cannonball” and “Hold Me Closer” are not great pop-punk-rock nuggets. It is simply impossible for a band to top the energy that gets created from exhilaratingly genius songwriting strokes like the opening riff of “Get Away.” Interestingly, it did seem like the band avoided the shoegaze-indebted songs from Yuck.
It is a joy to see a band rise up through tough odds and persevere in such a strong way. While the future of Yuck seemed tenuous even after the release of Glow & Behold in 2013, it appears the band is picking up momentum.