Philthy and Philly would like to personally thank YACHT for providing the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection with some of its brightest, most brilliant, and beautiful musical moments of 2013… All without even technically touring the East Coast… Yet, twice in the past two months the LA-based outfit has boarded afternoon planes that took them from Los Angeles to our cold, old, and humble city for performances those very same evenings. October saw them taking the stage of Boot & Saddle for a Facebook party that was their most intimate Philly show yet and last Friday they headlined Winterwaltz at Underground Arts, which were likely the two most postmodernly uplifting musical spectacles to hit the city all year.
For those who are still unfamiliar (and at this point you’re running out of excuses) Young Americans Challenging High Technology, or YACHT, are a bit hard to explain. They’re a band, they’re an idea, they’re a hope. They deal with the spiritual, the scientific (both fact and fiction), and the culturally theoretical. (A December 2011 chat with lead singer Claire L. Evans led to discussions of the Frankfurt School, cyborg ethics, and the Temporary Autonomous Zone.) Their ultimate aim has to do with the creation of an actual utopia. At the core of YACHT are Jona Bechtolt and Evans, in addition to Bobby Birdman and Jeffrey Jerusalem. And possibly the most genius thing about YACHT, in addition to seeming to be actual geniuses, is just how fucking loveable and danceable they are, projecting hyper-high-minded mantras as exercises in 1980s-inspired punkly synthetic popular dance music (“Synthpop,” “dance punk,” and “electropop” would all be appropriate.)
Although their more intimate show at Boot & Saddle in October may have technically been a little more “punk,” breathing room was hard to come by seeing room was pretty much non-existent, so it was nice to actually give them the room to put on “a show” last Friday at Underground Arts, whose main room was only filled to about 1/3rd capacity. The band took the stage at the very Rock’N’Roll time of 12:35am to kick off their hour-long set with 2011’s “Paradise Engineering,” boasting the band’s aggressively rollicking rhythm section as Claire Evans preaches to an eager audience that progress, revolution, and social evolution are all within our hands and our heads (YACHT are pretty much the most enjoyable and potent entity for schooling the masses that exist in 2013.)
And while the set did include a number of new YACHT tunes, like “Party at the NSA,” which I swear is the cover of a classic from London in ’77, it was the tracks off of 2009’s See Mystery Lights and 2011’s Shangri-La (two of the century’s thus-far most ingenious musical compositions) that provided the majority of the night’s highlights. Barely 20-minutes into the set and the band was cascading the crowd with their most anthemic number, “Psychic City (Voodoo City),” which, during a 2011 performance at the Church inspired an uninvited, yet more than welcome, stage invasion of nearly half in attendance. Other high points included “I’m in Love with a Ripper,” a glitzy take on industrial hip-hop disco and “Tripped & Fell in Love,” a goth-tinged gospel about “true love” not being something found through E-Harmony or the recommendation of a college roommate, but between those that would seem to organically come to surround you throughout the course of your human experience. The evening came to a close with a seemingly “logical” conclusion in 2011’s “Utopia,” leaving us with the final thought that it’s not an “other” that is responsible for ultimately saving us… It’s worth noting that in an aforementioned interview, Claire Evans did disclose to me one or two clues as to what she and YACHT suspect Utopia might actually be.
“YACHT’s conclusions about the practicability of Utopia are still in development, but we do have one important finding: Utopia is not a state, it’s a ‘state of mind.’ Not a place, a time. Not a government, or self-government. Not future—now.”