“Hey Yolk Bath — Can We Dance?!”: Emerging Artist Series at The Foundry
Q. How do you pack the dance floor on a summer Tuesday in West Stockbridge?
A. Based on this week’s show at The Foundry, featuring Amherst’s Yolk Bath, there are certain elements to attend to.
First and foremost, you’ll need a critical mass of fans. A dozen or so came over the pass from the Pioneer Valley, bringing with them a beyond-the-binary exuberance and an eagerness to sport their moves. One among this number posed the question of the night at the outset: “Hey, Yolkbath — can we dance?!” Throw in a handful of middle-aged couples (possible parental types) and a few of the Foundry faithful and you’ve got a quorum, as well as enough of a take to cover gas, tolls and libation for these emerging artists.
Throw in some exotic headwear. The band themselves set the standard here, with bassist Meem brandishing a day-glo pink toque above their blue velvet romper; drummer Vivian Mauve rocking a classic bucket hat to complement his black Clash t-shirt; and guitarist Smooth Mathilda sporting a well-worn navy ball cap to go with his beige coveralls. (As you may infer from these names, the trio have adopted an endearing Oscar Wilde-meets-Spongebob approach to nomenclature.) Assorted beanies and snapbacks, plus a plaid newsboy cap on a bearded fellow, rounded out the millinery display.
At least two members of the press. Besides your faithful Greylock Glass correspondent, the press was also represented by Charlie from The Surreal Times. (Charlie, who actually handed me a hard copy of the latest edition of this bi-coastally produced satire, doubles as roadie / merch-vendor / superfan for Yolk Bath.) In addition to any number of social media videographers, a young person to my left inscribed pen-and-ink sketches of the band in a moleskin journal.
Perhaps the most challenging element to plan would be a dynamic weather event. The furious downpour that the band drove through on the Turnpike gave the afternoon a Biblical feel; the power outage as the band was loading in conveyed a slapstick comedic vibe. (The gig remained in doubt long after the food truck departed; only the recovery of power close to showtime allowed Yolk Bath to take the stage and their faithful to storm the floor.)
Infectious, or at least insistent, grooves. The band, who style themselves a psychedelic rock trio, reveal regional roots with legends like The Pixies and Dinosaur Jr; they also display a kinship with iconic bands such as The Beastie Boys and Throwing Muses. Their nine-song set began and ended with plenty of speed and volume. (“Ripper Lady” and “Grim Jiggler at the Horse Factory” are both available via BANDCAMP; “Untitled Song #1,” for obvious reasons, has not yet been posted.)
Meem’s deft bass lines and Vivian Mauve’s emphatic percussion anchored the set and propelled the dancers, though the time-changes sometimes felt more quixotic than compelling. These two also contributed lead vocals for many of the songs; other tunes substituted angular guitar solos where words would have stood in more pop-oriented composition. Having literally played their entire catalogue, Yolk Bath ventured a cover for their single encore. This was the only song with Smooth Mathilda on lead vocal, as well as the only song to feature an attempt to harmonize. The former suggested a modality that Yolk Bath might want to explore more fully; the latter proved challenging given uneven mic settings or, perhaps, insufficient rehearsal.
The band and their fans clearly had a great night, as did Foundry artistic director Amy Brentano. “That’s why I opened this place,” she effused after the show. And now she, and we, plus all who attended and any who read this, know the answer to that pressing question: How do you pack a dance floor on a summer Tuesday in West Stockbridge?