Friday night, YACHT levitated onto the 7th Street Entry stage with a bottomless hard drive of danceable synthetic grooves and a detachment so gleeful it was almost painful. Almost.
There is a human heart to YACHT’s laptop pop, without which all would be lost. The bass lines are cozy and inviting, and the vocal mantras don’t need to be known so much as recited. Repeated often enough, and taken in concert with Claire L. Evans’ ethereal (but beguiling) pantomiming and Jona Bechtolt’s intermittent mania, a YACHT show in a room the size of The Entry is a bonfire away from a rain dance (though Claire made a valiant attempt with a liter).
For the most part, that’s all you need to know about a YACHT performance. For a good time, simply show up. But there’s so much more to take in. There’s the uber-uber-cool Blondie veneer and the art-house eye candy, with a little 80’s androgyny sprinkled on top. There’s the joyous lyrical taunting of big ideas like mortality, the nature of experience, and the universality of triangles. There’s the cheeky utopian stuff. There’s Claire responding somewhat seriously to the guy who called her sexy that she is “but a mirror to his perceptions.”
Serious or not, YACHT are not at your favorite local venue to address your petty earthly concerns. You’re lonely and frustrated? We live under a corrupt financial oligarchy? It no longer snows in Minnesota?
“You can live anywhere you want,” says YACHT, over and over until it takes on every meaning possible.
Between the detached, arty stage presence, the persistent sheen of optimism, and lyrical content aimed stubbornly toward the horizon, there is no chance of going along for the YACHT ride without leaving the ground behind. Dance parties that end this way are always better, but they often require a little chemical assistance. YACHT cultivates its own pleasantly toxic effect, piling trippy ideas and images on top of Philosophy 101’s greatest hits and happy grooves, drawing a line directly into the magic mirror in the sky. Even a song seemingly about crushing your lover with a rock (“Love in The Dark”) is some kind of amusing, self-relfexive thought experiment. And just in case you still feel bound by gravity, Claire, all draped in cult white and platinum blonde, will take you by the hand and trace the path for you. Obliterating reality is definitely the idea, but what is the point? 80s nihilism? 60s/70s idealism? None of the above?
Whether intended or not, YACHT’s existential clowning throws itself back to culturally and politically bankrupt moments of our past, where the line between nihilism and the spiritual high road was a thin one. If we were too young to remember, we have documentaries and Talking Heads LPs to live vicariously through them. It’s in our DNA to at least vaguely register what eerily detached, oddly dressed musical philosophers signify: the world ain’t right. We’re, uh, supposed to pay attention to something. (The probable reality, that any serious reference to a previous, screwed-up generation is coincidental, and that this is an organic reaction to our time and place, is actually the more frightening possibility, when you think about it. Does this mean glam metal and 8 years of Reagan is around the corner?)
Do a little homework, and you’ll find that whether the lyrics themselves are, in fact, genuine or cheekily subversive (or alternately both), the thought behind them is quite serious. Bechtolt and Evans claim to be “political atheists” and “emotionally agnostic” and that’s just the tip of a considerable iceberg. The immediate question is, are they just looking for the red pill, or are they concocting some special Kool-aid backstage?
Whatever the case, the end result, for you and me, is the same. We can accept the reality of our time, as presented, and watch the future we were promised flutter down the drain. OR we can reject it, crank up the bass, and dance our spinning heads off with YACHT—psychic cities, Heaven in LA and the WTF beyond. Sounds great to me.