Yeasayer, Broken Records: Uncut @ The Great Escape – May 16, 2008

Tonight is the second night of The Great Escape festival and, of course, the second night of Uncut's selection of bands at the Pressure Point, tonight featuring Edinburgh's Broken Records and Brooklyn boys Yeasayer.

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Tonight is the second night of The Great Escape festival and, of course, the second night of Uncut‘s selection of bands at the Pressure Point, tonight featuring Edinburgh‘s Broken Records and Brooklyn boys Yeasayer.

Once again the Pressure Point is packed, perhaps not to yesterday’s Bon Iver standards, but still a pretty good turn out. Broken Records are similarly packed onto the stage – there are seven of them and an assortment of instruments, including cello, violins, accordion and keyboard in addition to the usual amps and drumkit.


Not without good reason, the group are often dubbed the UK’s answer to Arcade Fire and the group certainly mimic a fair amount of the Canadians’ sound, including fast 80s indie beats, yelping Robert Smith-esque vocals, galloping martial drums and copious instrument swapping. With cello, accordion and two violins, there’s also a mini-orchestra blaring away on each track.

Despite the obvious similarity, Broken Records have a certain charm of their own, getting the crowd riled up with the fast-paced chamber-punk of tracks like ‘If The News Makes You Sad Don’t Watch It’ and occasionally tapping a slight Scottish folk vibe. Jamie Sutherland is also a great frontman, swapping between bass and various guitars (although he’s the victim of misfortune when he breaks a string on the second strum of the set); it’s also a little clichéd to describe a Scotsman’s sense of humour as wry, but it’s pretty apt in Sutherland‘s case, as he wheels out self-deprecating and funny comments between each song.

Up next are Yeasayer. If I hadn’t seen them before I’d be pretty unhopeful – for a start, the bassist, horror of horrors, has a fretless bass, is wearing a white vest and a camouflage baseball cap. But wait, come back! Exploring the mash-up of world music and indie in a similar manner to Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer mix up tribal beats, bizarre vocal ululations and spindly guitar in a much more organic – and less commercial – way than our favourite Ivy Leaguers, whose high life guitar and ethnic percussion sometimes feels a little tacked on.

The group’s psychedelic debut ‘All Hour Cymbals’ is fittingly recreated tonight, with vocalist Anand Wilder (now with his flowing locks shorn) handling a vast array of sounds and loops on his two Roland samplers. The crowd are pretty into every song the four-some play, particularly single ‘Sunrise’, driven along by sparse bass, an incessant Jaki Liebezeit beat and copious samples. My personal favourite is the bouncing ‘Wait For The Summer’, which on record features a bouncing sitar, live recreated on a blonde Rickenbacker.

When Yeasayer leave the stage the house lights are turned and we begin to file out, only to hear the remainder of the crowd chanting for more. As we return up the stairs, they take to the stage for an encore which they proclaim is ‘the first in the history of The Great Escape‘ (they may well be right, it’s not really the done thing at these fast-paced festivals).

Luckily, with only one album, they haven’t run out of songs and treat us to a smouldering, mid-paced track which sees Wilder twitching round the stage like a shaman in some Malian village. Yeasayer could probably do with writing more tracks as engaging as ‘Sunrise’ and ‘2080’, but either way they go down a right storm tonight.


Check out the final night of Uncut @ The Great Escape tomorrow, with Bon Iver again, plus Dawn Kinnard and Rachel Unthank And The Winterset.

Also, read our review of the first night, with Bon Iver, Wild Beasts and No Age.


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