In the digital age of music we are more exposed than ever to a rich variety of music with a vast range of genres and subgenres. Bands are no less exposed to this experience than we are and this could lead us to a new age of music in which the borders between genres are dissolved altogether. Yonaka's sound can be seen as on the borderline of many genres. The Brighton-based band, not quite sure what to pin themselves down as, feel more comfortable to leave this decision to the fans.
With Yonaka, the influences of various genres do not end with the sound of the music itself. At Sneaky Pete’s the band bring in the energy of an old school hip-hop concert, while exerting heavy punk riffs to kick the energy into overdrive. Right from the get-go, Yonaka are ready to fire up the audience and it works. The likeability of each band member makes the crowd even more enthusiastic about the performance. Right from the first song, the lead singer Theresa Jarvis charms the audience and projects the energy she expects from the audience with her gestures and dances. Guitarists, George Edwards and Alex Crosby portray the typical demeanour of rockstars, swinging side to side with their hair all over the place. Crosby and Edwards look so focused it is as if they are battling to control their guitars.
The band starts by playing 'Run and Salty', the first song from the HEAVY EP. Yonaka never lets the energy die, jumping from one song to the next. The third song, “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” is one of the more emotional songs, especially for Theresa Jarvis. Even for a song as expressive as it is, the atmosphere does not dissipate for a moment. In the more serious moments of the song Jarvis approaches the edge of the stage, head in her lap, muttering the lyrics. The lights dim and the audience is given a breather to connect with the reflective mind of Theresa Jarvis.
Following ‘WWBY, the transition to the next couple of songs is swift again. The second half is another mix of singles and music from the HEAVY EP. They go back and forth between their singles such as 'Drongo', 'Loner' and 'Iggy', which are balanced out by 'Gods & Lovers', 'Heavy' and 'All In My Head'. Yonaka amps up the crowd again, engaging the audience with the call and response commonly found in hip-hop concerts. Jarvis is centrestage feeding off the energy of the drummer Robert Mason consistently controlling the tempo and Crosby and Edwards supply that gritty style for which Yonaka is known. All members bounce and mnemonically sway to their fast paced music.
The performance caps off with ‘Bubblegum’, one of the most popular songs from HEAVY. In 'Bubblegum', the entire energy culminates into the ultimate experience for the crowd. As the guitars blare and the drum pumps, Jarvis cries “I, I, I, I, I/ I want it right now”. Each repetition of the verse brings Jarvis a step closer to the edge of the stage, literally. Once the song reaches its climax, all hell breaks loose. Jarvis jumps in with the audience, handing over the microphone to the fans who eagerly sing along with her. Jarvis goes further and further into the crowd singing and dancing, engagement with the fans now at its peak. As the performance draws to a close, the guitars crescendo to usher in the end of the act. Yonaka sticks around for a drink after the performance and encourages the audience to stay. People line up to thank the band for their performance and to shower the band with praise. Some members of the crowd admit they had never heard of Yonaka until that night at Sneaky Pete’s, but are fans by the end of the show. One couple had enjoyed Yonaka’s performance in Glasgow so much, they drove to Edinburgh to see them again.
The band strikes a resounding familiarity in its sound compared to their peers. Jarvis will have moments where she interpolates Gwen Stefani, but other times Wolf Alice. The sound coming from the instruments will make one think of Arctic Monkeys- a comparison the band are also familiar with. This does not make the band imposters by any means, as they certainly don’t lose integrity in their sound. The interpolations are not necessarily deliberate and give the audience comfort with a recognisable, yet unique sound. In many ways, Yonaka are a composition of the best of all the aforementioned artists or bands. The future is certainly bright for this young band who have only been together for two years.
Check out their new EP, here:
YONAKA, HEAVY EP