Underground is normally my favourite Plymouth venue. It’s the right side of gritty, and when there’s a vast crowd in attendance it plays the part of a music-lovers paradise. On this particular night however, something substantially atmospheric was missing, like someone had cut a junk out of the venue’s amiability. Call it whatever you will, but it tainted the evening to some extent.
Opening the event were an Exeter three-piece, channelling carefree pop-punk and indie vibes. Frankly however, the less I say about Young Adventurers, the better. Although their happy-go-lucky attitude held potential, their set was vastly unrehearsed, and they didn’t possess enough spontaneous flair to be able to pull this off. I will, however, leave it at that, at risk of sounding catty.
Next up were the group that I was most eager to see: Yonaka. This dark-pop foursome are renowned for their energetic stage-presence and wholly talented musical construction. I’ve seen them pigeon-holed into the femme-rock category far too many times, and lazily compared to other female-fronted bands though, so I’m going to start by articulating a point: the group are so diverse in their sound that they can’t be compared to other bands. There are merely an amalgamation of genres, interests, influences, and combined talents. The fact that they are female-fronted is irrelevant, and their talent is worth more than being pinned on a currently popular novelty.
This talent was demonstrated beautifully throughout their watertight set, which raised the bar astronomically in terms of the lack of musical quality already displayed. Theresa Jarvis’ voice affluently filled the venue with ease, and her experimentally varied vocal-range was, as always, mind-blowingly faultless. Likewise, her stage-presence was a performance all in itself, delivering a raw and sensual energy that you couldn’t keep your eyes away from. There was, however, a side-order of arrogance attached to this manifestation, but she’s so beguiling that I’m willing to let it slide.
With elegant tempo changes, hefty sounds, and whip-lashing authority, the group were indescribably powerful, and I urge you to check them out.
Concluding the event were Gurr, a mind-fuck of absorbing, indie madness. Soaring onto the stage, official band members Andreya and Laura Lee immediately set the tone of folly, backed by a bassist and drummer, who resided within their shadows.
Sound-wise, if you throw Dream Wife into rusty blender, add a few dashes of likeability, a handful of spices, and some nostalgic garage rock, then you’ll end up with Gurr. Alongside this intriguing resonance, the group were also a treat to watch. Strong, hyperactive, and bold, this animated band dispelled their energy throughout the venue, leaping and bounding across the stage like coffee-addicted chipmunks. This exhausting energy however was neither false nor faked, and the band were rocking for the right reason: because they love it.
All in all, the night was a mixed-bag of offerings, but I have no regrets about attending. ‘Girl power’ was certainly the message that I left with, but it’s a shame that being labelled as a ‘female-fronted band’ still holds a level of novelty and paucity.
Words by Keira Trethowan
Photography by Craig Taylor-Broad