Words and Pictures: Vikki Luff
If strong female characters aren’t your thing, it’s probably best to just stop reading now because The Electric Ballroom was seriously oozing with them on this night. Honestly, I felt empowered just by being in the room. The night saw Brighton four piece Yonaka perform their biggest headline show to date at Camden’s iconic venue. You’d think a show of that scale would intimidate a band, especially given that it was completely sold out, but did it? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute.
Before we talk about the first band, it’s worth noting that my first exposure of Yonaka was as an opening support band back in February and that single set was enough to get me hooked on the band and keep me there.
Sophie and the Giants
When Sophie and the Giants took to the stage and began their first song, I felt like I was having a flashback to that very moment. It was like watching a less experienced version of Yonaka open for themselves, so it’s safe to say they were rather fitting! Vocalist Sophie Scott has an amazing effortless power to her voice (a little reminiscent of Florence and the Machine) that really lifts the catchy beats of the music to an entirely new level. Throughout their set, Sophie strutted around the stage with a well placed confidence that certainly translated well with the audience. I will always remain convinced that support bands have a harder job at gigs than the main act – getting a crowd to move to something they’ve never heard before isn’t an easy feat. Despite this, I can safely say that a good portion of the crowd were off their feet for their closing track and recent release, Bulldog. If you’re a fan of Yonaka, Sophie and the Giants are most certainly a group to watch out for in future.
The Ninth Wave
Between acts, you could really start to see the venue packing out and by the time The Ninth Wave started their set the Ballroom was finally starting to look like it was hosting a sold out show. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the eclectic mix stepped out on stage, but I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised! Their style weaved a hefty amount of new wave into the rock base of it all, which delivered a refreshing edge to the set. It’s always a bit of a risk for a support band to get down to crowd level during their set. Will the crowd dig it? Will they not really do anything and make it a bit awkward? Who knows, but as front man Haydn Park-Patterson confidently strutted along the barrier whilst belting out their powerful lyrics, you could feel a little more energy emanating from the audience. Whilst all this was happening, bassist Millie Kidd was confidently busting out her backing vocals from the stage and I’m pleased to report that their harmonies were as tight as their fashion sense. So, super tight. The Ninth Wave perhaps didn’t get quite as good a reception as Sophie and the Giants, but this could easily have been down to the chilled nature of their music. Regardless, their passion for the music was clear to see and they certainly got the crowd excited for Yonaka.
Let’s go back to our earlier question for a moment; would a sold out show of their biggest headline appearance to date intimidate Yonaka? As the band strutted out onto stage to the tune of Jay Z and Kanye West’s No Church In The Wild, I think it’s safe to say the answer is no. From the get go, the entire band always oozes confidence almost to the point of being cocky (although thankfully stopping just short of it), and this night was no different. Wasting no time, the band immediately launched into the title track of their recently released EP, Teach Me To Fight, and the bubble of anticipation that had been resting on the crowd burst. Within seconds every single body in the room was moving, jumping, punching the air, you name it, it was happening. After a few more tracks, vocalist Theresa Jarvis stops and asks the crowd to repeat the main hook of their classic track, Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya. Anyone who knows this song can testify the power behind the vocals in it and would have every right to be a little nervous watching Jarvis belt this out with nothing but silence behind her. Let me tell you, those fears are very much unfounded as she has every bit of the same power live as she does on record and the song goes off without so much as a hiccup. You could forgive a band like Yonaka for not bouncing around the stage like maniacs given the amount of energy they need to put into their music, but somehow this is exactly what they do, with both Jarvis and guitarist George Werbrouck-Edwards being impossible to pin down. I don’t mean that in the “little skip around the stage” way either, Jarvis head bangs, hip swings and sashays with the best of them. Given how recently their Teach Me To Fight EP was released, it’s an incredible testament to their song writing ability that the band were already confidently displaying new material at the show, with the crowd eagerly lapping up new numbers Death By Love and Own Worst Enemy, soon to be released on their Creature EP. The band leave the stage to the echoes of the last bars of Fired Up and the crowd instantly demanded more of the four piece until they reappeared on stage, closing the night with their epic single F.W.T.B.. It’s quite rare that you’ll be able to hear a crowd screaming the words louder than the main vocalist, but the sheer venom of the lyrics inspired the crowd to spit them out with all of the fire and passion they deserve.
As the happily broken and sweaty crowd slowly filed out of the venue, it was clear to see just how much of a following Yonaka have gained in recent years, and it seems to be growing exponentially! If you’re still wondering about whether to jump on the hype train this band is offering, you better start believing pretty soon as it’s about to leave the station and it’s certainly not stopping for anyone.
1. Teach Me To Fight
4. Gods & Lovers
5. Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya
6. Wish You Were Somebody
7. Death By Love
9. She’s Not There
10. Own Worst Enemy
13. Fired Up
16. F. W. T. B.