Yassassin Live at HUS
When we saw our no.1 tip for 2018, Yassassin (see here) were playing in Liverpool headlining promoters ICYMI 2nd birthday bash show at HUS, it was a no-brainer which gig we’d be attending. We’ve been avidly following Yassassin’s progress pretty much from day one. Their superb debut ‘Social Politics‘ was followed up by a brace of wonderful singles (Pretty Face and Cherry Pie) and then a stunning debut EP, ‘Vitamin Y.’ They blew us away when they performed at Liverpool Psych fest last year, thus not even the mighty Hookworms bringing their sonic annihilation to Liverpool’s Invisible Wind Factory on the same night could tempt us away from the allure of Yassassin.
It’s also not that often you get a line up featuring emerging musicians that’s this strong, so full of quality and one that manages to be eclectic yet complimentary, a night in which every artist brought something different to the table.
Leeds based duo Jellyskin who comprise of Zia Larty-Healy and Will Ainsley opened proceedings and on occasion very much sounded like a long-lost classic 4AD band, mixing ethereal vocals, undulating keyboards with scything guitars. Are they electronic? Shoegaze? Krautrock? Pysch? Well the truth is their sound may well mix all of these elements but Jellyskin appear not to be boxing themselves into any genre-specific corner or allow any one element to define their sound. Their music is darkly hypnotic but not exactly dystopian doom pop as underneath the majestic layered sounds there is a dark sense of exhilaration.
Seegulls were next on the bill and produced an impassioned performance with a set full of vigorous indie rock, replete with relentless crunching guitar riffs, a charismatic front man and a clutch of fist in the air festival-ready anthems(the good type, not the “Chris Martin lalalalala, wave your lighters in the air to denote faux-bonding- type” .) To the uninitiated last year’s single “Eat, Lazurus, Eat” is a perfect starting point and an excellent snapshot of what this band are all about.
Party Hardly from Leeds exude an off-kilter Pavement vibe replete with biting literate socially aware lyrics, which were delivered with a casual dry Yorkshire charm by imposing frontman Tom Barr. The band looked like they could have arrived via different indie bands, the mod, the peace and love dude, the skinhead, but live they knit together perfectly and it’s difficult to ignore guitarist Matt Pownall who whirled about the small stage like a man possessed whilst the band delivered a set tighter than a Tory chancellor’s fiscal policy.
Headliners Yassassin once again delivered an immense set, providing yet more unassailable evidence that they genuinely are a ‘must see live band’. Just as impressive was the fact that this was their first gig of the year and they were playing live for the first time with a new bassist Nathalia and drummer Stephanie. The transition was seamless and their set was every bit as thrilling as their show-stopping appearance at Liverpool Psych Fest last year. The bands founding members Moa Fahlander, lead singer Anna Haara Kristofferson,(both from Sweden) and Joanna Curwood are perhaps not surprisingly, the most animated members of the band and when Anna wasn’t playing keyboard, tambourine or melodica she was making regular forays off the stage and into the audience. It was mesmerising set full of vim, vigour attitude energy and of course fantastic songs. You could make comparisons to bands from the past, as is often the way in music blogging/journalism, so for the sake of argument we could throw in references to The AuPairs or The Slits but Yassassin are forging their own path and their songs have their own unique energy and fizz and aren’t easy to pigeon-hole. All their previous releases were included in a storming performance alongside three unreleased tracks ‘Citizen’ Rebel/Sin’ and ‘Reckless’ and it appears, with such great new material being readied the Yassassin thrill ride shows no sign of abating any time soon!
A genuinely wonderful evening of new music and one of those occasions when you leave the venue absolutely buzzing. It was also a timely reminder, in the wake of Independent Venue Week why small venues are so important for up and coming bands. It’s where they learn their craft, try out new material start to build that all-important buzz. It’s from within these small venues that the likes of Wolf Alice, Dream Wife and Black Honey have broken using them as a vital a springboard to take things to the next level. And it’s from these basements in cities around the UK that hopefully future festival headliners are nurtured and discovered, lest we get stuck in a cycle of permanent nostalgia led by a small cabal of bands stuck in a loop of ever diminishing cultural returns. It’s vital that cities like Liverpool play host to local talent AND bands from further afield like Yassassin, who have definitely got that ‘special aura’ and who we hope can make a breakthrough in the coming year or so. And the band clearly love playing here, “Everyone’s so friendly” said Anna after the gig which supports a recent survey by Travelodge that found Liverpool remains the kindest city in the UK (https://www.mirror.co.uk/travel/uk-ireland/uks-top-10-kindest-cities-12031377) Let’s hope Yassassin are back in town soon, they are clearly a band who with a bit of luck have an incandescently bright future!