YACHT: Looking to Make Some New Philadelphia Memories Tonight at Johnny Brenda’s

“We always describe ourselves as, ‘danceable grunge,’” Claire Evans tells me, laughing, after I tell her that “Look Alive” reminds me of, “a synth pop appropriation of ‘90s alt rock balladry, like a synth pop take on a Luscious Jackson ballad.”  “I can’t wait to tell Jona that, he loves Luscious Jackson,” she replies. Claire L. Evans and Jona Bechtolt are best known as YACHT, the band that balances hyper-danceable beats with admirably lofty (and well-researched) cultural theory.  Claire tells me that a friend described their latest single, “Shame,” as, “suburban lawn K-pop,” which they found equally charming.  We’re discussing their recently released Strawberry Moon EP, their first release since 2015’s I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, which was followed by a very brief hiatus.  When I ask Claire about what YACHT has been up to recently, she tells me that, despite a sort of “formal” break, she and Jona have never really stopped thinking about or developing the project.

“We’ve been working on a bunch of stuff.  We were somewhat dormant, but really never stopped working on things. I have a book about to come out, a feminist history of the internet [Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet, out 3/6]. We’re working on new music that I can’t talk about yet.  We’re making a really big, insane project that I also can’t talk about yet.”

Although it had been a little while since we’d heard any new noise from YACHT, it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen them live which, I can tell you from experience, is how they are best experienced.  They’ve played Philthy many times, yet we haven’t seen them since late 2013, when they played a super-sweaty Red Bull party at Boot & Saddle, followed shortly after by a late night electronic festival at Underground Arts.  Although the band has played some sporadic, one-off shows in recent years, they just kicked off their first actual tour in several years, and they will be headlining our very own Johnny Brenda’s tonight for a nearly/possibly-sold-out show.  And, as much as we’ve missed them, they’ve apparently missed us as well.

“Honestly, it’s been so long, I need to make some new memories in Philadelphia.  I think the lack of touring has been driving Jona a little bit crazy.  I mean, he dropped out of high school to tour in a punk band.  Before this we had been on the road non-stop for like most of our adult lives, doing like 200 shows a year.”

Claire tells me that the current tour, which kicked off on the twelfth in Chicago, will feature a set that is a bit back-to-basics, with just herself, Jona and longtime touring member Rob “Bobby Birdman” Kieswetter, but that is just as focused on a communal experience as the shows YACHT has become known for.

“We’re playing a number of songs from the new EP…  It’s the three of us, we don’t have a drummer anymore, so it’s a little bit of a stripped-down set, a return to roots.  It’s three people and a computer… a pretty good ratio these days [laughs].  It’ll be a weird, emotional thing.  We always want to consider the audience as part of the show as much as us, if not more.”