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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

YACHT’s show goes smooth sailing

Published: March 2, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

Last Monday night, WBRS sponsored a free concert and brought YACHT, a synth-pop band to Chum’s. Formed in 2002 in Portland, Ore., Yacht was originally a solo experiment for band member Jona Bechtolt. In 2008, he was joined by now-lead singer Claire L. Evans, and in 2010 by Robert “Bobby Birdman” Kieswetter and Jeffrey “Jerusalem” Broadskey. The name choice originally came from the alternative high school in Portland called Y.A.C.H.T. that Bechtolt himself attended when he was 16. Their music is reminiscent of The Talking Heads on-stage and Evans possesses the vocal and stage presence of Chrissy Hynde. Brandeis was a stop on their Shangri-La Tour 2010, a seven-month tour spanning the United States and Europe. The inspiration from this album supposedly came from a two-month stay Evans and Broadskey spent in the West Texas desert, where they often would sit on the roof of their car and stare at the stars above. These lights inspired much of the songs on the album, but also apparently changed YACHT’s view on the world by bringing them closer to the universe.

YACHT preaches that they are a band and a business, but they claim also to be a belief system. All people are encouraged to become members of YACHT. In order to join YACHT, one should explore the meaning of words and create new ones, engage creativity and spiritually, and believe there are no limits on the mind. YACHT members also believe in the existence of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI), and the importance of acknowledging the possibility of life other than on Earth. YACHT does not undermine a person’s religion, it is supposed to enhance it, or provide an alternative community. YACHT defines God as the universe. If members are confused, YACHT has released a book on their philosophy, “The Secret Teachings of the Mystery Lights: A Handbook on Overcoming Humanity and Becoming Your Own God.” YACHT also strongly encourages tattoos. YACHT’s symbol is the triangle that normally replaces the A in the word itself. Yet, as a member of YACHT, there are rules that must be followed if proceeding with acquiring a tattoo—it should be placed in the forearm, hand, upper arm, neck, ankle and lower back, and nowhere where there could be negative energy in the body. The wearer should also understand the importance of the triangle symbol, and then place their own importance onto it. Whether a person believes that YACHT’s membership system and philosophy is something they truly believe, or purely a persona, it is seemingly left up to interpretation.

Despite the event’s scheduling on a Monday, the turnout for YACHT had an impressive student turnout. Upon entering Chum’s, hands were marked with YACHT’s symbol, also drawn in chalk on the walls inside.

Evans would often go into the audience, walking along the bar by Chum’s. She would drag the microphone behind her, as audience members jubilantly reached out and lifted the cord up. Evan’s dance style includes robotic and ethereal moves. With pale skin and bleached hair, she herself seems otherworldly. Yet, with music so haunting, her stage persona is completely in sync. She is also intuitive. She used the set to her advantage, at one time walking into the audience to screw in a light bulb into the socket in the middle of Chum’s. The other band members’ voices backing up Evan’s were very strong. Even though there were many spoken lyrics instead of sung, they were constantly on the beat and speaking in unison. Bechtolt also sang a few of his own songs. He seems to be Evan’s equal, for they compliment each other.
Toward the end of the show, YACHT began to play fan favorites, such as “Dystopia (The Earth is on Fire) and “Shangri-La.” YACHT’s live shows are much better than their recorded versions. At best, their recorded songs are marginally above average, the beat seems to get lost in between Evan’s voice and auto-tuning. Yet live versions of these hits songs are nothing at which to be disappointed: They are a clever combination of a catchy pop beat that does not get drowned out by electronic sounds. Live, they sound more like animalistic punk, something even Brandeisians long to dance to.