YAK: Picture House Social, Sheffield

In the midst of a mammoth UK tour spanning across 8 dates, 3-piece psychedelic rock band YAK took to the intimate settings of the Picture House Social in Sheffield last night. Supported by Goat Girl and LOGS, fans expected an explosive set in the sold out venue and they were certainly given one.

After stints of supporting the likes of The Last Shadow Puppets and Peace as well as a bulging summer schedule of touring the festival season. Vocalist and guitarist Oliver Burslem, bassist Andy Jones and drummer Elliot Rawson are taking on the country by themselves, and with the release of their debut album “Alas Salvation” under their belts, there was only ever going to be one outcome.

An explosive and experimental sound, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric. A carefully crafted concoction of effect-ridden guitars gives YAK their signature sound. Their artistic flare is demonstrated in set favourites ‘Plastic People’ and ‘Take It,’ as the grizzly rendition of ‘Harbour the Feeling’ kick-starts the set into absolute chaos. Having the ability to deliver your song in an articulated manner, whilst exploring psychedelic tones and a distorted grunge that any Nirvana fanatic would give a thumbs up to was never going to be easy, but somehow, YAK pull it off. The chemistry between the trio is eye-catching, they seem to be able to read each other’s emotions and reflect it through their playing skills. From every face expression, to every guitar lick, to every foot stomp, their connection is an unexplainable bond that has a positive backlash on the gawping audience.

The tightly-packed venue was the perfect setting, as the mayhem is encapsulated perfectly. Both band and audience are feeding off the raw energy, especially when tracks like ‘Curtain Twitcher’ and ‘Hungry Heart’ are thrashed out. Their cult following of faithful fans play their own air guitars as they try to mimic the actions of the band, everybody is trapped in the music, as spontaneous, lengthy jams take place through song breaks and in the songs themselves.

The freedom of YAK’s playing is what drew me in the most, although they follow the structure of their records, they aren’t afraid to add even more colour to the already overhauled blackout of creativity they produce. Playing music from their early days, right up to their latest single ‘Heavens Above,’ they have nothing but confidence and belief in their work, and this is shown by both the way they play, and their projection to the pumped crowd.

As the audience start to leave, the venue looks like it has just witnessed a YAK performance. A sweaty, head-banging environment of nothing less than fun, there’s no wonder why these boys have barely had a day off since 2015, their ability to replicate the creativity of their recorded music to their live show is as good as I’ve seen in a long time. The future is bright for these guys, a solid show full of improvisation and spontaneity. If YAK are playing in a city near you, get yourselves down.

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