Sebright Arms, London
September 23 2015
Words: Linn Branson
This is not the first appearance in London for Danish post-punks Yung, having already supported Metz at the 100 Club earlier in the year and played a ramshackle Shacklewell Arms. It is, however, their first headlining non-free show, and since their stock has risen over the last half of the year and with the release of new EP, 'These Thoughts Are Like Mandatory Chores', it is a chance to show off their wares.
It is therefore something of a surprise to find the Sebright's room virtually empty at 9.30pm. Admittedly we are in the lull between bands, but even with the band warming up - a few "arghh's" "hey's" and probably the Danish equivalent of "one, two, one, two" from frontman Mikkel Holm Silkjær - there is still a huge well of emptiness.
Fortunately, once they get under way with a set of 14 songs (that are for the most part sequed into each other and largely indistinguishable), a head-nodding wave gradually forms in front of the stage. That males outnumber women by a large percentage may indicate that Yung are more a 'blokes' band', geared as they are to some raucous headbashing which seems to sit better with the male of the species.
Two things soon become apparent: Silkjær’s vocals are pitched somewhere in between a rasp and a bellow, and there is little to no audience engagement - aside from attacking one's ears with their decibel-busting noise level, probably making anyone without earplugs regret not having popped a couple in beforehand.
It's more of less a case of both sides getting off on their own thing. Or maybe this is the way of things, Danish punk style. There seemed to be a detachment - could this be a cultural thing? - in that there was no peaks and troughs: every song rampaged along at its own frenetic pace. If I sound somewhat less than enthralled, it was that yes, having liked much of their recorded material, I was expecting more ... well, more excitement, live anyway, than what came across.
That Silkjær breathes impassioned rawness there is no doubt. Tonight it's injected through the six-and-a-half minute marathon of 'Blue Uniforms', and 'Don’t Cry', offering a touch of emo in its fuzzy guitar make-up, sounds pretty darned good. 'Nobody Cares' rumbles on biting guitar riffs and Silkjær growls, over an hypnotic swathe of distortion, and Frederik Nybo Veilie’s drumming shooting urgency into the noise-rock proceedings of the slow-fast tempo that brings a burst of crowd dance fever.
The rest of the set near enough follows suit, combining tracks from both EPs. Opener 'Imaginary Calls' starts off the 'Alter' tracks with jagged guitars and Silkjær's snarling rage that “She won’t answer my calls”; followed by 'A Stain' (is it just me who hears a few Thin Lizzy 'Whisky In The Jar' riffs here?) coming just about midway, allows for a slower tempo bridge. 'It Happened Again' - one of the three highlights from '...Mandatory Chores' - gives way to a melodic template with vocals soaring against a driving rhythm, while 'God', with a raft of squally guitars and big hooky chorus, sums it all up in a sub-three-minute blast.