Published Feb 20, 2010An evening with Jonah Bechtolt's beat-driven, electro-pop project YACHT ensures two things: some weird-sounding, super-cool shit and a sweat-soaked dance party. And that's when he was simply a solo act.
At the Canadian kick-off for the band's cross-country tour, Bechtolt shared the stage with Claire L. Evans, YACHT's relatively recent new addition, a drummer and a guitarist. Bechtolt's usual mode of laptop 'n' beats delivery was still at hand, but the addition of live instruments and layered voices gave YACHT's sound surprising depth and urgency, helped further along by Evans sharing lead vocals throughout.
Evans revealed that it was only the second time all four musicians had played together as a band, and their own excitement was palpable, as the quartet sang, danced and occasionally crowd-surfed through an hour-long set. That energy translated musically, too, particularly in "The Afterlife," which evolved into an all-out jam session, something previous YACHT shows could never do since there weren't any other collaborators. Every song seemed to have more movement as well, because of the live accompaniment, particularly on the epic "It's Boring/You Can Live Anywhere That You Want," which owes a debt to Talking Heads.
The second opening act, Bobby Birdman, was, like YACHT, backed by laptop beats (and a live drummer), but with a voice like a lounge singer from the '60s, it seems the charismatic lead singer is perpetually stuck in some episode of Quantum Leap. But, there's something awesome about his occasional Tom Jones-esque delivery paired with futuristic blips, deep grooves and staccato rhythms. "Victory at Sea" is catchy and drum driven, and he invited Vancouver-based openers Fine Mist on stage to sing his optimism anthem "I Will Come Again," which the duo had covered in their own set.
Fine Mist's opening set felt a little off-kilter. That said, the duo's brand of haphazard electro-pop is charming and fun, and offers a perfect showcase for Meghan McDonald's impressive '80s-ladies power pipes. Her voice soars with a sexy husk and she's damn funny, offering up delicious sound bites no one asked for, like her declaration that she and band-mate Jay Arner aren't a couple, since "he's a eunuch and I'm celibate. Like Morrissey."