Around nearly midnight, Claire Evans called out from the stage at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Friday: “How much time is left?” she asked.
“Five minutes!” the audience responded, informing Claire that the federal government would shut down any time now.
“It’s like fucked-up New Year’s!” Claire quipped to everyone, turning to her bandmates in Yacht on stage behind her. “Let’s enjoy the last five minutes of social services we have left.”
Yacht however was determined to make a party of the night despite the implied criticism of dysfunctional government, and the trio succeeded, playing catchy synthpop for a bustling room that was close to capacity with enthusiastic admirers. Yacht hadn’t been to DC since November 2015 by our accounting — and they nearly broke up in the meantime.
But the band dropped Strawberry Moon, an alluring new EP, in December, and announced a guerilla tour that wrapped its first leg in DC on Jan. 19. On Friday, Claire assured the crowd Yacht were here to stay, and they would record new music soon. They resume their tour on Feb. 3 in Seattle for a string of West Coast dates.
Yacht opened their show at Rock and Roll Hotel with new song “Shame,” a chirpy but subversive number that pokes fun at the perfection of carefully orchestrated social media posts of youth enjoying experiences, particularly throwback experiences that one might associate with the hipster aesthetic, at least by a charming accompanying music video. Folks took to the song right away as if sucking down a new wave lollipop of perky vocals and rolling synths, and all was right with the world.
In addition to new songs like “Strawberry Moon,” which began the set’s encore, Yacht focused on established favorites, including numbers from their excellent last full-length album, 2015’s I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler. The band performed that earworm of a title track toward the end of the set, again giving a withering side-eye to technological development and modern escapism but doing so in a way that sparked breakout dancing across the floor of the concert hall. In the midst of their set, Yacht delivered a pleasant surprise with their cover of “Le Goudron” by Brigitte Fontaine, hailed by Claire as “one of the great revolutionary French weirdos.”
The bond between band and audience cemented quickly, and concert goers were positively giddy to see vocalist Claire, keyboardist/guitarist Jona Bechtolt (the band’s founder!), and bassist/keyboardist Rob Kieswetter. Everyone gave voice to the love in the room when Claire paused and posed, staring out into the audience, and said simply, “Questions?” A lighthearted dialogue ensued, and we learned that Claire is apparently part mime and confirmed that tonight was indeed a party.
Of course, one man shouted: “When do we get to go to Psychic City?!” — and the question inspired faux admonishment from Claire, who explained patiently that everyone had to wait until the very end for the “hit” — a popular selection from 2009’s See Mystery Lights, the first Yacht album to feature Claire as a full-time member of the band. And it did indeed come as the last song of the encore, which followed a sly exchange where Claire encouraged people to go to the merch table, sign a form in triplicate, and file it with the bartender to potentially hear more songs. Taking the word of the audience this had indeed been done, Claire, Jona, and Bobby returned with beers brought for them by a lady admirer and grooved away for a two-song encore.
As we mentioned, Yacht return for more dates on the West Coast in February. Should you see Yacht, you’ll undoubtedly have a fabulous time with good people who are the very best at crafting catchy songs with clever lyrics and buoyant synths. Welcome the return of Yacht to your nearest port! You’ll enjoy every minute of it.
Here are pictures of Yacht performing at Rock and Roll Hotel on Jan. 19, 2018.