"Pure, unadulterated insanity"
Yasmin Cowan
23:02 8th November 2018

The last night of Yak’s UK tour is pure, unadulterated insanity, as the London-based rock trio lead you down a gradual descent into chaotic madness. It’s dark, sweaty, loud and messy. It’s difficult to tell where one song ends, and another begins as the entire set amalgamates into a manic, adrenalised noiseathon. 

Frontman, Oli Burslem, is a force to be reckoned with as he throws his guitar crowd-wards, climbs on amps and launches himself into the crowd on several occasions. It’s a strange turn of events, with everyone wildly clambering to the stage, a spectacle that is reminiscent of the good old days of indie rock gigs. The show concludes with Burslem, barefoot and dressed in white, being lifted by a sea of hands like some kind of rock’n’roll god, who then disappears into the crowd. 

Yak are known for their brutal and intense live sets, but nothing quite prepares you for the lunacy that unfolds at one of their anarchic shows. They throw everything they’ve got at you, playing as if the world were to end once the lights go up, and the piercing squeals of guitars drift off into the abyss.

Burslem isn’t quite what you’d expect given his personality on stage. His calm temperament and soft voice is a high contrast to Yak’s primal performance and ferocious sound. Lost for words he comments after the show, “It was great, I enjoyed it. Any gig we play never has any structure – it was chaos.” 

The sheer physicality of their gigs is exhausting. Not only do you get lost in the carnage, being engulfed by the endless mosh pits constantly forming around you, it also feels as if you’re losing your mind on some infernal acid trip – strangely, I mean this in a good way. 

Yak’s riotous routine takes you on a journey across genres, where one minute you’re experiencing a taste of 60s garage rock, the next it’s 70s punk and then of course there’s the psychedelic vibes of their latest single, ‘Bellyache’. Burslem’s eerie baritone and heavily distorted, scratchy guitar mixes eloquently with Vincent Davis’ fuzz laden, sludgy bass and Elliot Rawson’s furiously energetic drums. This busy combination makes for a gut-churning sound that is slightly abrasive with melodic undertones. 

Yak is undoubtedly a unique kind of release worth experiencing. Having teased fans with two singles already, the band expect to unleash their new album early next year. If their previous album is anything to go by, it will certainly not be for the faint hearted.

Niall Green was in the pit, and backstage, to capture the following snaps;

Photo: Niall Green