Yes Fest 2019


For YES Fest on this bank holiday Sunday, thirteen artists and bands are invited to play gigs in the Basement and Pink Room at YES. The two bars and the roof terrace are open as usual, so there are a lot of people in the multi floor venue.

The Psychedelic Porn Crumpets from Perth are the first band we see today. The five long-haired guys put on a really stunning and energetic show. The Pink Room is about half packed up, and while some people are enjoying the gig more shyly, a high percentage of the crowd is dancing exuberantly.

The band introduces a new band member, who plays an additional, third guitar. While other bands sometimes tend to struggle with putting more than two guitars into effective use, they simply sound amazing. Honestly, every riff is played with so much energy and skill that it’s impossible not enjoy this. They also play a new single, which will come out on Wednesday, followed by a new album on Friday. The single is well received; the cheering and applauding (that goes for most of their songs) is almost deafening.

Next on in the Pink Room is Willie J Healey, supported by a band of four on drums, guitar, bass, and saxophone/keyboard. Healey, looking like one of the coolest and most chilled guys out there, comes on stage wearing a bucket hat and about a zillion shirts. He instantly enchants the audience with the cheeky smile that won’t leave his face until the end of the gig. The band is greeted with cheering and whistling, which seems to continue throughout the whole set. Every now and then he moves away from the microphone to get closer to the crowd to smile and speak to what seems specific people. I’m not sure if it’s just charisma, but there is definitely something about him that everybody seems to get. At one point someone even from the crowd even shouts “You’re beautiful”, but Healey just smiles and continues with his set. Although his voice is rather soft, it gets coarse at times, which fits perfectly with the melancholic sound. Towards the end, his guitar strap rips, but he’s still able to give a wonderful performance and keep up that warm and dreamy atmosphere.

Before we catch the next gig, we have some food on the floor level. Since YES is open as usual, it has become significantly more packed since we arrived. After our pizza we return to the Pink Room to see Rainy Miller. It’s him and his band, consisting of four others playing drums, guitar, keyboard, and guitar. They put on a lo-fi and to some extent lounge sound, to which Miller is singing with a strong use of autotune. He doesn’t really talk or interact with the audience between the songs, but he slightly bows while thanking the crowd, making him appear humble and, kind of, shy. While the band puts on a good gig (he’s definitely one of the artists who sound better live), the crowd doesn’t seem to be captivated and at least half of it seems to be talking to each other. It’s just really distracting and makes the whole experience less enjoyable.

We stayed throughout Miller’s whole set, so when we got down to the Basement we’d missed half of PREGOBLIN. Although more people are involved in the project, only Alex Sebley and Jessica Winter are on stage tonight. Both of them are singing, while their house influenced dance tunes are coming from a laptop. This enables them to put their energy into dancing – and trying to get the crow to dance more. The room is about half full, but most of them are just nodding along and only the people at the front are wildly dancing. For their last song, they get people from the audience on stage, while Sebley gets off the stage to sing. It’s kind of weird, because you can’t really see Winter anymore, and it seems nothing like a gig now, but it’s also a nice and funny thing to observe – just dozens of people cheerfully dancing around and having a good time.

Headliner HOMESHAKE is the last act of the night, and again, the Pink Room is really packed and rather loud. At this point I’m not sure if it’s really just the crowd or if the acoustics of the room just make the conversations seem much louder than they actually are. Anyway, this is a bit disturbing, especially in the beginning, because the vocals are kind of low. I am put off by this, as it’s rather hard to enjoy the soft, dreamy tunes when there’s just so much noise around – and I get the feeling that vocalist Peter Sagar feels similar. Only as I try really hard to ignore the noise and concentrate on the songs I can at least kind of get lost in the lo-fi synth tunes supporting his soft voice. I mean, overall the band gets a lot of cheering and whistling after their songs, conveying that not all attention is lost, but the vibe itself was definitely ruined by the quite frankly annoyingly loud conversations.

HOMESHAKE: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Dahlia Owusu

My decision to leave Germany and move to Manchester was most definitely influenced by my love for music and going to gigs. I came here in 2018 and am now studying English and Journalism at Manchester Met. When I’m not at a gig, you’ll usually find me reading or in a café.