YAK + INHEAVEN + The Hungry Ghosts
The Rainbow, Birmingham
May 11 2016
Words/Photos: Rosie Mulhern
YAK are the band that have been amongst the batch of most exciting 2016 newcomers with rather a lot of hype surrounding them. The trio are known for their brutal live tendencies and their raw, angry and most definitely noisy, sound, and that - and more - they brought to Digbeth's Rainbow tonight to kick off their latest tour. Having not seen this band before, I wasn't sure what to expect but the one thing I did know was to brace myself for what was about to unfold.
Earlier in the evening Birmingham's own The Hungry Ghosts opened the show. I was quickly able to see why YAK had a liking for these guys as both bands were driven by aggression. With this quartet, however, that took the form of a more dramatic element especially when frontman Joe Joseph headed into the crowd to square up to members of the audience. They successfully managing to fire up the audience and each song had its own punch to it (not to mention some intriguingky named songs like 'Father Snake Moan' and 'Death Rattle Blues') with unique vocals and layers of fast and gritty guitar riffs. They brought good old fashioned rock and roll to the table, with a more modern take with aspects of synthy tones appearing in bursts.
Next up was emerging indie band INHEAVEN. Following on from their recent success with Flying Vinyl and previous support slots with the likes of The Magic Gang, Blossoms (and an upcoming tour with Sundara Karma in a few weeks) the south-London four-piece were now about to woo the fans of YAK over to their side. It wad hard to fault either the band's energy - with all songs conveying grungy yet optimistic vibes - or the impressive harmonies of frontman James Taylor and bassist Chloe Little, with the latter's female vocals adding to the uniqueness of the band, giving them a slight psych edge. They sounded extremely tight and certainly left us all raring to go, as they ran through a set including crowd favourite 'Regeneration' and latest single 'Baby's Alright'. They were more than alright it seemed for the crowd tonight, managing to leave an indelible impression with their straight to the point lyrics and euphoric melodies.
After much anticipation, the London trio known for their barbaric live shows took to the stage. I was surprised to see a diverse mix of ages within the audience as I was expecting a primarily young crowd; however, it was a mix of keen teen moshers circulating as close to the front as possible, and a row of a slightly older age group edging towards the back with pints in hand watching intently in awe - and a slight look of fear within their eyes.
YAK's highly awaited set began with a build up created from frontman Oli Burslem's synth playing consisting of intense whirring sounds, forcefully leading us into their electrifying opening song 'Harbour The Feeling'. As beer coated the walls and an aroma of sweat and sheer confidence from both the band and audience filled the air, YAK drove on ploughing through their set as each face melting tune oozed onto the next.
The relentless performance from the trio showed no signs of stopping and picked up even more with anger fuelled older songs such as 'Smile'; as driving, gravelly guitar was paired with Oli's grunting and rugged screams, whilst crowd favourite 'Hungry Heart' was a clear instruction for crowd-surfers to do their job. The band added originality to their set with the reinforcement of aspects of some songs thrown into others with the punchy opening screech of a riff to single 'Alas Salvation' made itself present throughout the night, building and holding the tension.
As Oli smacked his guitar off the floor as if creating a new instrument and sound, the sludging sound of Andy Jones slapping the bass as if there was no tomorrow and the crunch of Elliot Rawson's drumming like he was on fire, created copious amounts of energy. That there was little verbal engagement between vocalist and crowd only added to the never-ending momentum as a well needed stage dive seemed like the only time he could stop for a breather; and even then he was still attempting to relentlessly play his guitar as he surged through the crowd.
It was exciting to hear live performances of the band's material from their debut album 'Alas Salvation' (released a couple of days after this show); containing a real emotionally diverse set of tunes - including the slightly more uplifting on the surface 'Do Wah' - and something different and more unique, with this band setting their own limits with their raw and honest talent, carving their own way within the music industry.
A triumphant ending to the show came with album track 'Use Somebody'. The only fault of the night was when it ended as I was left with not only a minor sensation of tinnitus, but a real buzz and a need to see them again as it certainly was an experience I am glad not to have missed.