LIVE REVIEW: YONAKA, King No-One, July Jones, Chalk, Brighton, 27/02/2022
Photo Credit: Dave East
You want to know what we’ve missed? Like, missed so much so that it makes our chest ache? The feeling of walking into a dimmed venue, being engulfed by the anticipation that saturates the small space and knowing, for the next three or so hours, we’re about to experience something remarkable. Who’d have thought you could miss the sticky floors, sharing sweat with strangers and dodging flying plastic cups, which you hope are just spilling dregs of beer?
We hate to admit that, since the world reopened, we’ve been to shockingly few gigs, which is strange considering we used to ‘couch surf’ from one venue to the next just to get our daily fix of live music. But all that changed Sunday evening at Brighton’s Chalk, where hometown heroes, YONAKA, kick-started their first headline tour since the pandemic. However, they’ve been anything but idle. Following the release of their electrifying mixtape, Seize the Power in 2021, they’ve feverously played the festival circuit, including mammoths like Reading and Leeds and Download Pilot. Then, as if making up for lost lockdown time, they finished the year by supporting Nothing But Thieves (October) and The Hunna (November) on their UK legs.
Now, for those of you who have yet to attend a hometown show of an artist you adore, know the experience vastly differs. Sure, you have the unadulterated excitement and contagious energy that floods the place, but there’s this added sense of pride. Kinda like there’s this big, unspoken inside joke or secret society and for once in your life, you’re actually in on it! The crowd is always a funny one too. An odd assortment of family and close friends wearing their luminous ‘crew access’ stickers like veteran medals. 30+ year old OG’s elated at the fact they are out on a work night like rebellious teens, and the shiny new wave of adolescents still high on their new discovery, rushing to the barrier and clinging onto it for dear life. Nevertheless, the three blend with shared enthusiasm. In this instance, united by their love for YONAKA.
Opening with July Jones, whose soundscapes transformed a dreary Sunday into a Saturday nightclub scene, the night then took an unexpected turn with King No-One, the boy-next-door charmers whose indie-rock allure mirrored that of The 1975. This didn’t stop the crowd giving their all, even if they were somewhat disorientated at the beginning of each set.
But then lights dimmed for the last time. Anticipation almost starved the air of oxygen. However, the soothing opening of Ordinary briefly lulls the buzz. The audience hypnotised by the enchanting Theresa Jarvis. Until the glorious crescendo of “is this what you want? Is this what you came for?” pierces the previously mellifluous moment. The once contained buzz erupts into uncontrollable chaos, as the first mosh pit of the night bursts onto the scene. From here, the floor vibrated with a force worthy of the Richter scale. An earthquake set to last for nearly two hours. So much so that even more ethereal tracks like Call Me a Saint and Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow had a punch powerful enough to knock out.
However, a highlight had to be their acoustic rendition of Guilty, stripped back to just Jarvis and George Werbrouck-Edwards on guitar. It had the audience clinging onto the occasion with such intensity as if they were afraid to blink it away. It’s here we noticed how few phones had been thrust into the air, desperate to document each song. Guilty marked the most, but to act as torches, like every live ballad needs. Likewise, with the encore of Anthem, which saw friends lifted onto shoulders, clutching each other, crying those happy tears that only ‘THE’ song can provoke. In an era where digital connection has seemingly overtaken, it was refreshing to witness people wanting to live in the moment. Maybe it was a hometown show thing. Maybe this is a positive repercussion of lockdowns. Whatever the reason, it was invigorating to see communities come together and just be.
Next stop, YONAKA did the impossible. Shattering Guilty‘s sweet serenity with Teach Me To Fight, the setlist took an even heavier turn. Not once did energy, from both the band and the crowd, deplete, but grew stronger with each song. Only once the band vacated the stage for good did the earthquake halt.
If tonight proved anything, it was that YONAKA may be rising the ranks in popularity with their genre-bending sound and thunderous live shows. But Brighton will forever be their home.
Written by: Corey Plant