Review: Yacht played Winterwaltz at Underground Arts on Friday night; much dancing occurred

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Photo by Kate Bracaglia
Photo by Kate Bracaglia

YACHT—the New York-via-LA-via-Portland duo of Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans—is one of those bands who once you see them live, you immediately want to see them live again. There’s something so warm and celebratory about their show that just makes you wanna get up and dance (even if you’re totally not the dancing type); add smart, snarky lyrics and real friendliness and you have all the ingredients for a really great night out. Friday night, the band brought their energy and tunes to Underground Arts, for a late-night Winterwaltz Fest after-party filled with good vibes and great dance moves, that had everybody raging along.

The hallmark of any great live band is being able to play songs you’ve heard a million times on record, and imbue them with something new. For Yacht, it’s all about playfulness and interaction. On record, Bechtolt and Evans make brash, quirky dance pop, with cerebral lyrics about the paradox of choice, or based on science fiction tropes. Live, they take these songs and add, essentially, a giant grin.

Evans—the stern voice behind “Dsytopia (The Earth Is on Fire”) on record—lit up Friday as she skulked and boogied across the stage, flirting with the crowd as they belted out the refrain. To her left, Bechtolt pounded away on his keyboard, eyes intense, but with passion. Behind and beside them, Bobby Birdman and Jeff Brodsky laid down tight bass and drum grooves, a canvas on which the duo painted and pranced.

Between songs, they indulged Q&A sessions with the crowd, fielding inquiries about robots and aliens. (Last time I saw them, they waited for someone to go the bathroom.) Yacht are always having fun, but they’re also making sure everyone else is too.

The band’s set Friday night ricocheted between older and newer material, mixing tunes from 2009’s See Mystery Lights alongside newer numbers like the recently-released “Le Goudron” and political critique “Party in the NSA.” Tunes like “I Walked Alone”—from 2011’s Shangri-La—proved spirited romps, Bechtolt and Evans playing off of each other vocally—while “Second Summer” pulsed with ‘80s vibes and Evans’s best robot dance moves.

The band closed its set with a mash-up of “Utopia” and “It’s Boring (You Can Live Anywhere You Want),” building energy as they propelled their way through. Next time they’re in town, you can bet I’ll be there, freaking out on the dance floor like only can Yacht can inspire.

Setlist
Paradise Engineering
The Afterlife
I’m in Love With a Ripper
I Walked Alone
Psychic City
Second Summer
I Tripped and Fell in Love
Dsytopia (The Earth Is on Fire)
Le Goudron
Encore:

Party in the NSA
Utopia / It’s Boring (You Can Live Anywhere You Want)